Monday 18 November 2019

O'Brien family just touched off in chaotic Melbourne finale as Vow And Declare bites back for Australia

Craig Williams celebrates with family after riding Vow And Declare to win the Lexus Melbourne Cup
Craig Williams celebrates with family after riding Vow And Declare to win the Lexus Melbourne Cup

Michael Verney in Melbourne

There was no fairytale ending to an extraordinary few days for Joseph O'Brien as Master Of Reality was gunned down in the final strides of the Lexus Melbourne Cup with the home team biting back through Vow And Declare in a thrilling and controversial finish.

The name O'Brien will be on the roll of honour of "the race that stops a nation" once again but it is the Australian Danny on this occasion after legendary jockey Craig Williams finally ticked the Melbourne Cup off his bucket list.

It looked like Frankie Dettori was about to finally end his own Melbourne Cup hoodoo on Master Of Reality but Williams hugged the running rail the whole way around and just held on by a head in a chaotic finish.

Joseph O'Brien – who landed his first Breeders' Cup success on Saturday night in California – must have thought he was going to be a two-time Melbourne Cup winner with 50m to travel but Master Of Reality faded in the final stretch.

Dettori's mount tired with the finish line in sight and hampered the chances of the fast finishing Il Paradiso – trained by Joseph's father Aidan – with Wayne Lordan squeezed for room at a crucial juncture before finishing fourth.

An enquiry was called by the Flemington stewards and they ruled that Master Of Reality had seriously impeded Il Paradiso with Wayne Lordan's mount elevated to third and Dettori relegated to fourth.

Running a game race once again in second was Prince Of Arran with Michael Walker just thwarted on Charlie Fellowes' charge having finished third 12 months ago.

Last year's winner Cross Counter ran a fine race in eighth for Charlie Appleby while the other Irish runners failed to land a blow with Aidan O'Brien's Magic Wand coming home tenth with his third runner Hunting Horn finishing 15th.

Joseph O'Brien's other three runners were unable to make the top ten with Twilight Payment finishing 11th while 2018 Irish Derby hero Latrobe was 18th with Downdraft third from last in 22nd.

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