Heartbreak in Melbourne for Martin's raider
The courage, determination and sheer class shown by Irish raider Heartbreak City proved just agonisingly short of what was required to win the 156th Emirates Melbourne Cup as Almandin emerged a worthy victor of the world's richest handicap.
Trained by Tony Martin, Heartbreak City was one of three Irish-trained runners in the $6m contest known as 'the race that stops a nation'.
And inside the last 400 metres, the 14/1 shot, ridden by Hong Kong-based Brazilian Joao Moreira, looked as though he could become the third Irish winner of the famous race, but Kerrin McEvoy came and collared him in the shadows of the post on Almandin (7/1) to give multi-millionaire Lloyd Williams a record-breaking fifth win in the race as an owner.
Martin, an Irish Grand National and multiple Cheltenham Festival-winning trainer, was naturally extremely proud of his six-year-old stable star.
"It was a great run and a great performance by the lads who looked after him, the horse and everybody but it's just unfortunate it wasn't to be," said the gutted Meath man.
"The horse fought him off once but unfortunately wasn't able to fight him off a second time.
"We had the speed to get there and unfortunately we carried the other horse and were a sitting duck for him, but that's racing."
The New York-based Here For The Craic Syndicate have had plenty of success with Martin in different horses over a large number of years, including Grade One winner Benefficent, but they really came to prominence when their post-race interview after Heartbreak City's Ebor win went viral.
Prior to the Melbourne Cup they sold a share in the horse to another syndicate, Australian Thoroughbred Bloodstock, but despite coming so close the very sporting Aidan Shiels of the Here For The Craic Syndicate was beaming after the race.
"The winner just beat us fair and square on the day. Don't go crying over split milk, we'll come again," he said.
"We would have took 24th place in this race, drink tonight and go home... Second, well it's unbelievable."
Jockey Joao Moreira chose to focus upon the many positives after such a gallant run in defeat. The rider said: "He tried 120 per cent and I'm very proud of the horse.
"He was giving the best of himself for a long way. You can't be disappointed with his run."
Connections will now discuss future plans for the horse which has possible engagements in Japan and Hong Kong and his trainer has earmarked a return to Melbourne next year.
"If we've to lock him up until next year that's what we'll do. This is where he'll be coming," Martin said.
Bookmakers Paddy Power inserted Heartbreak City as a 16/1 shot for next year's renewal.
Aidan O'Brien's Bondi Beach was never a factor in the race for Ryan Moore and eventually finished 13th, while fellow Irish challenger Wicklow Brave expended a lot of early energy under Frankie Dettori by getting across from stall 24 and Willie Mullins' challenger beat just two horses home.
Godolphin were responsible for five runners in their relentless pursuit to win the Cup, with the locally-trained 9/2 favourite Hartnell third - some four and a quarter lengths away from the main protagonists - and Charlie Appleby's Qewy a staying-on fourth.
Big Orange, fifth last year, was prominent for a long way but he faded as the field charged for home and could only finish tenth for trainer Michael Bell and jockey Jamie Spencer.