Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Vow And Declare wins Melbourne Cup as Saeed Bel Obaida’s Prince of Arran promoted to second

'I feel very privileged,' said winning jockey Craig Williams of his first Melbourne Cup success after 15 years of trying to win the 'race that stops a nation'

Vow And Declare ended Australia's 10-year drought for a winner at the Melbourne Cup as the Danny O'Brien-trained horse won edged out Saeed Bel Obaida's Prince of Arran in a thrilling finish at Flemington.

With jockey Craig Williams aboard, the four-year-old Vow And Declare raced prominently on the inside rail throughout the 3,200-metre trip before edging out Frankie Dettori on runner-up Master Of Reality, with Prince Of Arran, owned by Emirati Saeed bel Obaida, third in the A$8 million (Dh20.2m) Group 1 handicap.

Master of Reality was later demoted to fourth after a protest for interference in the final 100m, with Prince of Arran promoted to second and Il Paradiso third.

It was the first success in the race for trainer O'Brien since Shocking’s victory in 2009.

“I feel very privileged,” said jockey Williams of his first Melbourne Cup success after 15 years of trying to win the "race that stops a nation".

“I grew up watching races, dreamt of these occasions like this but I can’t do it without my team around me. I have so many people to thank.

“Vow And Declare gave me a wonderful ride. I wasn’t given any instructions. I want to savour the moment. Thanks to all the people who turned out today.”

O’Brien added: "It’s an amazing thing to happen. I really can’t believe it. I feel incredibly blessed to have had a horse good enough to be in it. He was ridden so beautifully by Craig.

“It doesn’t get much better than this. It was a race which wasn’t going to plan. To be fair to Craig he grabbed the bull by the horns early when nothing went forward.

“He ended up in front by the post. He’s a courageous horse, he’s got great stamina. I’m sure he was headed but wanted to get his head out on the line.”

Godolphin’s Cross Counter, the winner 12 months ago, weaved through from the middle of the 24-horse field on the home stretch under William Buick, but could not keep pace with the leaders and finished down in eighth.

Charlie Fellowes said he was "really proud" of Prince Of Arran, third last year, and said he planned to have another crack at Australia's biggest prize again next year.

“What a horse! To do that two years in a row is remarkable - but this time I never felt that we were going to win it,” he said.

“I always felt Vow And Declare had us, although in the last five yards I realised we were a lot closer than I had thought.

“I'm not disappointed. I'm incredibly happy and I'm really proud. He has run so well and we came so close again.

“He is six years old and still improving. He is a laid-back horse who only ever does enough so hopefully we can have a few more years of racing with him.

“Providing the horse is OK, plan 'A' is to come straight back here again. The Melbourne Cup will be his No 1 target.

“Next year I won't run him in the Herbert Power and instead we'll go via either the Caulfield Cup or the Geelong Cup before coming here.”

Updated: November 5, 2019 09:44 AM

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