Racing

It's Wow And Declare

Craig Williams steers Aussie gelding to score in thrilling Melbourne Cup finish

Australian gelding Vow And Declare won the coveted A$8 million (S$7.5 million) Melbourne Cup at a packed Flemington racecourse yesterday, as revelations about the grim fate of retired racehorses were put to one side as punters streamed through the turnstiles.

With veteran jockey Craig Williams in the saddle, the four-year-old edged out Prince Of Arran, Il Paradiso and Master Of Reality in a thrilling finish in the famous 3,200-metre "Race that stops a nation".

Racing out of barrier 21 on a glorious day, Twilight Payment led for much of the race until the Danny O'Brien-trained gelding came through on the line to upset a field jam-packed with overseas runners, containing only two Australian-bred horses.

"I was lucky enough to sit on Vow And Declare. A credit to Danny O'Brien," said Williams, who has now won the Melbourne Cup to go with the Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup and Golden Slipper during an illustrious career.

"It was a privilege to ride him today. We had a difficult barrier draw but we trusted him. We knew what we can do. Great to be associated with a horse like this."

Master Of Reality crossed the line second in a photo finish ahead of Prince Of Arran and Il Paradiso. But the stewards lodged a protest over interference in the final 100 metres.

The footage was reviewed and the protest was upheld, with Prince Of Arran elevated to second, Il Paradiso third and Master Of Reality bumped down to fourth.

O'Brien, who gave Vow and Declare a light spring campaign of just two runs before yesterday, paid tribute to Williams.

"An amazingly special thing to happen," he said. "I feel incredibly blessed to have a horse good enough to be in it and then for him to be ridden so beautifully by Craig. He rolled the dice like he does, he's an outstanding jockey." - AFP

HORSE RACING