Dubai: Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien has taken a real liking to the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s iconic horse race, which was run at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne on Tuesday morning - just as it has since 1861.
Just three years after the former flat-jockey turned racehorse trainer travelled half way round the world from his base in The Curragh to shock the world and win the 3,200 metre contest with Rekindling, he repeated the feat with Twilight Payment, an eight-year-old gelding who was unplaced in the Cup 12 months ago.
But what a difference a year makes as the Jim Bolger-bred son of Teofilo, a 22/1 outsider, showed when boldly making e all the running under jockey Jye McNeil to upstage his 23 rivals.
Twilight Payment also made history when he joined Toryboy (1865) and Catalogue (1938) as the oldest horses to win the Cup.
Tiger Moth, trained by Joseph’s father and legendary Irish handler, Aidan O’Brien, was second in only its fifth career start with Kerrin McEvoy aboard, while the evergreen Prince Of Arran, ridden by female jockey Jamie Kah.
Kah was bidding to become only the second female jockey after Michelle Payne in 2015 to win the great race aboard Prince of Penzance. New Zealand raider The Chosen One finished fourth.
Jockey Jye McNeil was emotional after the race, saying it was a privilege to deliver a record seventh win for owner Lloyd Williams. “Too many emotions ... it’s a very big moment,” he said after the race.
“I’m not worried about the (empty) grandstands at all. Just to be able to get the opportunity in front of the Williams family to partner Twilight Payment today ... it’s very overwhelming.”
Godolphin’s Avilius finished at the back of the field.
The race was marred by the tragic death of one of the pre-race favourites Anthony Van Dyck, who was also trained by Aidan O’Brien.
The Melbourne Cup has been run on the first Tuesday of November since 1876, and the winning horse instantly becomes a household name in Australia. It is the highlight of Australia’s racing calendar and ordinarily up to 90,000 colourfully dressed and punters would be trackside.
But despite Melbourne emerging from months of Covid-19 lockdown last week, organisers decided it was too soon to allow fans and just jockeys, trainers, security and operations staff were on site.