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The Danny O’Brien-trained Vow And Declare put an end to Australia’s Melbourne Cup drought on Tuesday by becoming the first homegrown horse since Shocking (2009) to win the time-honoured $7 million staying race.
The gelding by Declaration Of War was installed as a $12.00 chance after drawing barrier 21. Running second behind Mer De Glace in the Caulfield Cup last start, punters weren’t afraid of backing the four-year-old, who firmed into $11.00 before the jump.
Jockey Craig Williams had never won a Melbourne Cup before and his ride on Vow And Declare was nothing short of brilliant. With the tempo on the slow slide, the pair chose to sit close to the speed from the gates before rounding the bend box seat third.
It didn’t take long before Vow And Declare’s Caulfield Cup form shone through as he exploded along the rails to reel in the leading Prince Of Arran and Master Of Reality.
It was a memorable day not only for O’Brien and Williams, but also for Australia. Nothing came easy as Vow And Declare copped a slight bump from Master Of Reality over the final 50m, but the horse showed tremendous fight to lunge at the line and win by half a head in a time of 3:24.46.
“It was a privilege to ride him today. We had a difficult barrier draw, Danny’s instructions were to trust him, we know what we can do” Williams said after the race.
“It’s been great to be associated with a great horse like this. I rode him on debut, James Winks rode him on debut in his maiden win 12 months ago, he progressed. Look at him, he knows he won.”
It was a first for Williams and also O’Brien as the Flemington trainer won his first-ever Cup. O’Brien advocated all week how important a win over the internationals would be for Australian racing as his true blue stayer lived up to his end of the bargain.
“It doesn’t get much better I don’t think. It was a race which wasn’t going to plan, but to be fair to Craig he grabbed the bull by the horns when nothing else wanted to go forward” O’Brien told Racing.com.
“He ended up in front past the winning post and that’s probably been the winning move. But inside the last 100m, I thought geez you’ve led past the post the first time and three are on you now, I was hoping he’d hang on for a place, to be honest.
The horse is a courageous horse, he’s got great stamina and I’m sure he just found something more to get his head over the line.”
It always looked like Vow And Declare wanted a little more after being chased down by Mer De Glace in the Caulfield Cup. Having won over 3000m in the Group 3 Tatt’s Cup at Eagle Farm back in June, the form more than stacked up for a competitive race.
Williams led from Youngstar down the straight the first time around and although he looked a little keen early, O’Brien always had faith in his horses fitness.
“He’s definitely got a great motor. His recovery is the best we’ve seen and to get full advantage of that you probably need to run 3200m, and we were able to do that today. We got a bit outsprinted in the Caulfield Cup but the stamina won us the race today” O’Brien went on to say.
A protest between fourth and second put a slight delay on the celebrations as it was decided Master Of Reality and jockey Frankie Dettori impeded the run of Il Paradiso. The protest was eventually upheld as it was deemed Master Of Reality squeezed Il Paradiso between Vow And Declare, awarding Prince Of Arran second place and Il Paradiso third.
“I am incredibly proud of the horse. To do what he’s done two years in a row is a remarkable achievement,” Fellowes said of Prince Of Arran’s run.
“Don’t think he’s ever finished outside of the first three which is amazing. God, we were close, gee we were close today. I thought for a very, very brief second we had it. We just hit the front and then… he’s run brilliant.
“We’ve just literally two seconds ago been invited to run in the Japan Cup. There’s also a race in Hong Kong, The Vase, which we’ve got on our mind. I’ve just got to have a little think to see where we go. But to be honest, all roads lead back here next year, that’s where we want to come.”
Nine internationals (since Shocking’s win in 2009) had won the Melbourne Cup prior to Vow And Declare’s victory on Tuesday.
Master Of Reality was declared as the fourth place-getter. Mer De Glace, who was the favourite following the barrier draw finished sixth ahead of Finche, who edged the Japanese stayer for favouritism on Monday afternoon.
Complete 2019 Lexus Melbourne Cup results can be viewed below.
|1||23||VOW AND DECLARE||Danny O’Brien||Craig Williams||–||21||52kg||–|
|2||12||PRINCE OF ARRAN (GB)||Charlie Fellowes||Michael Walker||0.2L||8||54kg||1.0kg|
|3||20||IL PARADISO (USA)||Aidan O’Brien||Wayne Lordan||0.3L||17||52.5kg||–|
|4||3||MASTER OF REALITY (IRE)||Joseph O’Brien||Frankie Dettori||0.4L||1||55.5kg||–|
|5||18||SURPRISE BABY (NZ)||Paul Preusker||Jordan Childs||0.9L||20||53.5kg||1.0kg|
|6||2||MER DE GLACE (JPN)||Hisashi Shimizu||Damian Lane||1.2L||2||56kg||1.0kg|
|7||11||FINCHE (GB)||Chris Waller||Kerrin McEvoy||1.4L||4||54kg||–|
|8||1||CROSS COUNTER (GB)||Charlie Appleby||William Buick||1.6L||5||57.5kg||–|
|9||21||STEEL PRINCE (IRE)||Anthony Freedman||Brett Prebble||2.1L||16||52.5kg||–|
|10||15||MAGIC WAND (IRE)||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore||3.6L||24||53.5kg||–|
|11||10||TWILIGHT PAYMENT (IRE)||Joseph O’Brien||Hugh Bowman||3.8L||19||55kg||–|
|12||17||SOUND (GER)||Michael Moroney||James Winks||3.9L||10||53.5kg||–|
|13||19||CONSTANTINOPLE (IRE)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Joao Moreira||4.1L||7||52.5kg||–|
|14||4||MIRAGE DANCER (GB)||Trent Busuttin & Natalie Young||Ben Melham||4.3L||13||55.5kg||–|
|15||6||HUNTING HORN (IRE)||Aidan O’Brien||Seamie Heffernan||4.5L||11||55kg||–|
|16||13||RAYMOND TUSK (IRE)||Richard Hannon||Jamie Spencer||5L||3||54kg||–|
|17||22||THE CHOSEN ONE (NZ)||Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman||Tim Clark||5.2L||18||52kg||0.5kg|
|18||7||LATROBE (IRE)||Joseph O’Brien||James McDonald||6.45L||22||55kg||–|
|19||5||SOUTHERN FRANCE (IRE)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Mark Zahra||6.55L||14||55.5kg|
|20||24||YOUNGSTAR||Chris Waller||Tommy Berry||7.3L||9||52kg||–|
|21||16||NEUFBOSC (FR)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Luke Nolen||8.3L||23||53.5kg||–|
|22||14||DOWNDRAFT (IRE)||Joseph O’Brien||John Allen||8.6L||15||53.5kg||–|
|23||8||MUSTAJEER (GB)||Kris Lees||Damien Oliver||10.85L||6||55kg||–|
|24||9||ROSTROPOVICH (IRE)||David & B Hayes & T Dabernig||Dwayne Dunn||40.85L||12||55kg||–|
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