Vow And Declare foiled the strong British and Irish challenge to win the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
Trained by Danny O’Brien and ridden by Craig Williams, Vow And Declare dug deep in the two-mile prize to fend off the Joseph O’Brien-trained Master Of Reality and Charlie Fellowes’ Prince Of Arran.
Aidan O’Brien’s Il Paradiso also finished with a flourish to take fourth.
A stewards' inquiry saw Master Of Reality demoted to fourth, behind Il Paradiso (promoted to third), who he was deemed to have impeded. Prince Of Arran was promoted to second spot.
It was a first Melbourne Cup win for Williams, who missed out on victory with Dunaden in 2011 due to suspension.
He said: “Of my riding career, it’s absolutely the biggest moment. I was born into a racing family and I know I keep thanking all my team, but my success is because of my team, it’s because of my upbringing with my parents, my two brothers and the people I have around me.
“I said to my wife (in 2011) that we’ve won the Melbourne Cup, but unfortunately I was suspended and I couldn’t ride Dunaden.
“When Danny O’Brien confirmed me (for the Melbourne Cup) on Vow And Declare, I said to my wife again that we were going to win the Melbourne Cup, I was that confident after the Caulfield Cup.”
Frankie Dettori was banned for eight days following his ride aboard Master Of Reality. Partnering the Joseph O’Brien-trained Master Of Reality, Dettori passed the post in second place behind Vow And Declare after a tight four-way finish to the two-mile prize, with Prince Of Arran third and Il Paradiso fourth.
However, Dettori’s mount drifted across the track in the final half-furlong, impeding the run of Il Paradiso, who was trying to challenge between Master Of Reality and Vow And Declare.
Wayne Lordan had to stop riding aboard Il Paradiso, who is trained by O’Brien’s father Aidan, and the stewards quickly called an inquiry before eventually opting to demote Master Of Reality to fourth and suspend Dettori until November 14th.
The Charlie Fellowes-trained Prince Of Arran was promoted to second – one place better than last year – with Il Paradiso boosted to third.
Joseph O’Brien won the 2017 Melbourne Cup with Rekindling and he was disappointed Master Of Reality could not give Dettori his first win in the race, with the Italian having twice finished second in 1999 and 2015.
Dettori has enjoyed a stellar year with 19 Group 1 winners to his name, including three wins for supermare Enable and another Stayers’ Million prize with Stradivarius.
However, he has endured a luckless run at Flemington, with his 17th ride on Master Of Reality resulting in a suspension that began immediately on Tuesday and ends on November 13th, after pleading guilty to a charge of careless riding.
It is not the first time Dettori has fallen foul of the stewards in the Melbourne Cup, with the rider suspended for a month and fined $20,000 for causing interference on runner-up Max Dynamite four years ago. He was also suspended for a month for careless riding on Mamool in 2004.
Returning to the weighing room, Dettori said: “I want to cry.”
Owner Nick Williams added: “I’m shattered for him, nothing would have been better for Master Of Reality to have won the race for him.”
Dettori is scheduled to start a four-week riding stint in Japan from next weekend.
Prince Of Arran delighted Fellowes with his run, adding to his Geelong Cup win, and next year’s Melbourne Cup is already on the radar.
He said: “He’s an unbelievable horse, he absolutely loves it out here. In maybe another five yards we weren’t far away from being in front. I think that was a better run this year than last year – we came so close.
“It was different this year because last year I thought we were going to win at one stage, but there wasn’t a moment this year that I thought we were going to get it until literally the final five yards.”
Fellowes has further international options to consider for Prince Of Arran now, including the Japan Cup and Hong Kong Vase.
He added: “He is amazing and also a credit to Natasha (Eaton) who has just done the most wonderful job plus all those at home who don’t get the credit, I wish they could be out here to experience this but they’re not.
“It’s a team effort and to do that two years in a row, is a remarkable achievement. We’ll try to do it again next year. Third time lucky next year?”
There was a sting in the tail for jockey Michael Walker though, who was banned for seven meetings for excessive use of the whip.
Lordan was satisfied with Il Paradiso’s effort, saying: “Would’ve done with jumping a bit quicker. (He) didn’t get an ideal position, but ran well.”
Charlie Appleby’s Cross Counter became the first British-trained winner last year, but had to settle for eighth under top weight this time while Richard Hannon’s Raymond Tusk was 16th.
Aidan O’Brien also saddled Magic Wand (10th) and Hunting Horn (15th) while Twilight Payment (11th), Latrobe (18th) and Downdraft (22nd) all finished down the field for Joseph O’Brien.
Ger Lyons’ Ebor winner Mustajeer finishing 23rd of the 24 runners for new trainer Kris Lees, with a number of jockeys pointing to a slow early pace having gone against their mounts.
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