Racing

Irish eyes smile in Melbourne Cup

Twilight Payment beats fellow Irish raider Tiger Moth in Melbourne Cup

In a race and on a day which truly stopped a nation, Irish long shot Twilight Payment won the A$8 million (S$7.67 million) Melbourne Cup at Flemington yesterday.

But, unlike the other editions of the Cup which always had the rah-rah and razzmatazz of a three-ring circus, it was eerily quiet at trackside.

With the race - for the first time in history - being run behind closed doors because of Covid-19, jockey Jye McNeil sent Twilight Payment to the front and held off all challengers over the gruelling 3,200m trip.

Alas, for one of the race favourites, Ireland's Anthony Van Dyck - wearing the No. 1 saddlecloth - broke down at the 500m mark and was humanely euthanised.

While it was a sad thing to happen on any race day, there was no denying McNeil in celebrating as he was led back to an empty winner's enclosure.

Riding the eight-year-old, who had few followers at the betting booths, he had managed to squeeze that extra out of his 22-1 mount when challenged by 11-2 favourite Tiger Moth in a thrilling finish.

The winner was trained by Joseph O'Brien, who was successful with Rekindling in 2017. Again, he left his father Aidan to take the runner-up spot.

Britain's Prince Of Arran finished third, ahead of New Zealand's The Chosen One.

It was veteran owner Lloyd Williams' seventh Melbourne Cup, against a top-quality field heavy with overseas runners, mostly Irish and British.

"There's so many emotions, it's such a big moment, it's a miracle," said McNeil. "It's very overwhelming.

"I've been dreaming about this since before I could ride. It was a very surreal feeling crossing that line." - AFP, REUTERS

HORSE RACING