Can you be an animal activist and still support horse racing? In short, yes.
Four-year-old Australian gelding Vow And Declare has written its name into the history books and folklore of Australian racing after winning the 2019 Melbourne Cup.
Trained by Danny O’Brien and ridden by Craig Williams, Vow And Declare was one of just two Australian horses in the race and managed to bring home the win in an incredibly tight finish.
A photo finish originally determined that Master of Reality was in second and Prince of Arran in third, for the second consecutive year, but a protest changed the final finishing order.
The protest, from Il Paradiso in fourth, saw Master of Reality dropped back to fourth place, Prince of Arran rising into second and Il Paradiso in third.
“It is a protest, fourth Il Paradiso against second, which is Master Of Reality,” reported Michael Felgate.
“Jockey Wayne Lorden didn’t lodge the protest because they are both trained by Aidan O’Brien. The stewards have fired in the objection.”
Master Of Reality took the early lead but there was plenty of movement in the early stages. Vow and Declare and Youngstar led the field, before Twilight Payment made a move on the outside.
Twilight Payment led the way by a length and a half at one point, but as they came around the final bend there were a dozen horses in position to make a jump, the field wide open.
Vow And Declare proved the best of them, pushing out along with Finche, Prince of Arran and Master of Reality, and held on just tightly enough to get the win.
It was Master of Reality who had rushed into the lead with just 100 metres left to go, but Vow And Declare sped ahead in the final seconds to win by a nose.
“I was lucky enough to sit on Vow And Declare,” said Jockey Craig Williams after an incredible breakthrough win.
“A credit to Danny O’Brien. Matt has let all the people through social media get involved with the horse’s preparation. Ben, I don’t want to name everyone in the stable but with all their hard work, we love this horse.
“Thank you very much guys. It was a privilege to ride him today. We had a difficult barrier draw. The instructions, we trusted him. We know what we can do. Great to be associated with a great horse like this horse.”
1. Vow And Declare
2. Prince Of Arran
3. Il Paradiso