Melbourne Cup – The Aftermath

Craig Williams celebrates after winning the Melbourne Cup aboard Australian bred, owned & trained Vow And Declare. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Melbourne Cup remains on our shores – fortuitously, says some.

Danny O’Brien-trained four-year-old Vow And Declare dived deep into his endurance stores to claim victory in our famous handicap race.

As with every Cup, storylines exploded from here, there and everywhere. Protests, unlucky runs, gallant efforts, an injury and many frustrated jockeys were some of the chapters to be told when the story of the 2019 Lexus Melbourne Cup is written.

Here are more than a few…


Vow And Declare had been set for this race for some time. Early in his career, trainer Danny O’Brien stated this was a horse who would love two miles. He was right!

Craig Williams was an artist, putting the horse into the race to offset his awkward barrier 21. He then handed up to Master of Reality and the handbrake went on, allowing the leaders to contest the finish.

The best part was the son of Declaration of War’s grit. He was comfortably headed up the lane and looked set to run outside the placings before kicking back hard and earning $4,400,000 for connections.

At only his 13th start, Vow And Declare becomes a Melbourne Cup champion with the real possibility of returning next year for another crack.

The Cup remains in Australian hands at a time when we most needed something to crow about!

Congrats to all involved and for those who did not raise the hand at the sales when he was passed in for $45,000, take a sleeping pill because you’ll be hard pressed getting to sleep knowing you were staring at the winner of the world’s greatest handicap.

For the first time since 1991, a protest was upheld in our famous race.
Such was the interference caused by a wayward Master of Reality – and the unwillingness of Il Paridiso jockey Wayne Lordan to protest – stewards took matters into their own hands by lodging the challenge and eventually upholding the protest. Vow And Declare kept his win but Master of Reality went from runner-up to fourth and Prince of Arran and Il Paridiso both jumped up a placing.

It looked a cut and dry protest, even to the most untrained eye but did add drama to an already busy race.

14 of the 23 defeated jockeys made light of the slow tempo of the race in the post-race. All complained of a slowly run affair with the leaders getting things to suit. It’s unusual for a Melbourne Cup, particularly with so many European horses all wanting a strong gallop. In the end, Craig Williams – and Frankie Dettori – out-rode everyone to give themselves every hope of winning. For those who were annoyed at the pace of the race, I guess next time they’ll need to take matters into their own hands.

There were many excellent runs in behind the winner yesterday, led by fellow Aussie Surprise Baby. The $5,000 online purchase exploded down the outside to storm in fifth. His closing sectionals were outstanding and left connections wondering what could have been.
Il Paridiso was phenomenal off a slow tempo, making up many lengths to eventually be unlucky not to win the race.
Japan’s Mer De Glace was excellent, although over-racing at times, to see out the two miles and run sixth whilst defending champ Cross Counter jetted home despite his 57.5kg for eighth.
Runner-up Prince of Arran was excellent but he did look to have the race in his keeping and despite his waywardness late in the piece, longshot Master of Reality ran a cracking 3200m.

Hayes, Hayes & Dabernig entrant Rostropovich sadly injured his pelvis during yesterday’s race and has to be transported to Werribee veterinary clinic for treatment. He’s said to be in a stable condition but it’s very worrying for true racing fans in a time where another Cup fatality would have been difficult to explain.

In 2015, aboard Max Dynamite, world champion jockey Frankie Dettori steamrolled multiple runners in the concluding stages earning himself a one-month suspension and a $20,000 penalty. In 2019, looking for his maiden Cup victory from 17 attempts, he looked home aboard Master of Reality until the horse began veering toward the inside rail as the winning post loomed. It certainly cost Master of Reality any hope of hanging onto victory but also likely prevented Il Paridiso from claiming glory as he squeezed that horse against Vow And Declare. For his role in the mayhem, Dettori saw his horse relegated from second to fourth in the stewards room and picked up a nine-meeting suspension (which will delay his Japanese contract).

After the race, all Dettori could utter was ‘I feel like crying’.

Some were lucky and some were incredibly unlucky. The upheld protest of the Cup meant betting agencies awaited the stewards verdict before paying out the astronomical exotics of the trifectas and first fours.

In the end, those who had a piece of the first four would have collected $79,381 for 100% of the F4 – not bad work for a Tuesday afternoon.

Allegedly (I’m always curious about these massive punting stories), one wagerer outlaid $10 and nailed the F4 in order – once the protest was upheld.
For his troubles – and ten minutes of hellacious anxiety – he pocketed $793,000.

As I said, IF true, what a day!!

For the record, Il Paridiso was my second pick so I bet accordingly. Seeing him squeezed up in the final 50m was enough to turn me off racing… until Oaks Day.



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