Tag Archive for: Flemington

Dream Melbourne Cup success for McDonald and Verry Elleegant

Jockey James McDonald realised his Lexus Melbourne Cup dream as Verry Elleegant sprinted away from the field to claim the Flemington showpiece.

The Chris Waller-trained mare added a 10th Group One win to her record as she saw off hot favourite Incentivise by four lengths in the two-mile feature on Tuesday – a victory McDonald believes cements Verry Elleegant’s top rank status.

The rider was originally booked to ride British-trained runner Away He Goes before an injury ruled him out last week and McDonald described his win as a “fairytale”.

He told www.racing.com: “It means everything. It’s the one race I’ve dreamed of riding in and of winning.

“That’s how you want to win a Melbourne Cup.

“I couldn’t believe the position I got first time out of the straight, she was so relaxed and she never touched the bridle until I gave her a kick at the 600-metre mark and she sucked up.

“I could see the favourite (Incentivise) getting shoved along but I had seen that in the Caulfield Cup as well. When I went past him, I just wanted that post to come up.

“To pilot horses like Verry Elleegant each and every carnival is just a huge privilege and it worked out really well for us.”

Verry Elleegant has enjoyed some notable battles with William Haggas’ Addeybb over the last couple of years, with her Group One tally encompassing distances from seven furlongs to this two miles.

McDonald was happy to settle his mount in mid-division through the early stages as Incentivise raced in second through the majority of the race, but Verry Elleegant was clearly travelling well as the field turned for home.

Andrew Balding’s British raider Spanish Mission was perfectly placed to make his run down the middle of the track as Incentivise went for home, but Verry Elleegant was sat on his shoulder and when McDonald gave the signal, the response was immediate.

Verry Elleegant pulled clear in the final furlong, with Spanish Mission staying on all the way for Craig Williams but just failing to catch Incentivise for second by half a length. The ex-Richard Hannon inmate Floating Artist was fourth while Joseph O’Brien’s defending champion Twilight Payment finished 11th.

Waller watched the race with his family at home in Sydney and admitted it was a special moment to land his first Melbourne Cup.

“When she crossed the line, I was very emotional,” Waller said.

“I really wanted to be there to share it with the staff and those who have worked so hard, but to watch it with my family made it very, very special.”

Waller famously handled 25-times Group One winner and four-times Cox Plate champion Winx and he added: “It makes it pretty special to have another mare like this one. So brave, so determined and so good.

“We’ve had some great wins and important wins and this is certainly one of them.

“It’s the Melbourne Cup, so it’s very special and just the way she won it. She dropped on them and showed her class.

“She was the class of the race and she showed that with that finish that I’ll never forget.”

Spanish Mission ran a fine race in third
Spanish Mission ran a fine race in third (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Jockey Craig Williams admitted Spanish Mission had been no match for the winner, but was delighted with his placed run.

He said: “Couldn’t have been any more impressed with his gallant performance. I had the option of being one horse in for the entire race but I decided to be on the back of Grand Promenade, I thought it would take me nicely into the race and we did. But when Verry Elleegant came around me, she was towing.

“My horse did a really good job and was fighting it out for second. Great job by Andrew Balding and his team for the planning and what a gallant warrior to go to battle with.”

Incentivise was sent off the shortest-priced favourite since Phar Lap in 1930 and his rider Brett Prebble said: “Courageous effort. His first time to this trip and it took a champion to beat him.”

Twilight Payment was a touch slow to break and jockey Jye McNeil said: “He wasn’t able to get into his usual role and at the halfway point he really struggled.”

Verry Elleegant claims Melbourne Cup glory

Verry Elleegant proved too strong for hot favourite Incentivise as she landed the Lexus Melbourne Cup in the hands of jockey James McDonald.

Trained by Chris Waller, the six-year-old mare improved on last year’s seventh place to come home a cosy winner in the two-mile contest.

Andrew Balding’s British runner Spanish Mission ran an admirable race to finish third in the Flemington feature.

The pre-race attention was focused on Incentivise, the Caulfield Cup winner who was unbeaten in his last nine races, and he was prominent from an early stage, racing wide from the start before moving up to sit in second after passing the post first time.

Persan set a reasonable gallop up front, with McDonald happy to settle in mid division through the first part of the race before taking up a position to challenge turning for home.

Spanish Mission was perfectly placed to make his run down the middle of the track as Incentivise went for home, but Verry Elleegant was sat on his shoulder and when McDonald gave the signal, the response was immediate.

Verry Elleegant fairly sprinted away in the final furlong to come home clear, with Spanish Mission staying on all the way for Craig Williams but just failing to catch Incentivise for second.

The winner was claiming a 10th Group One victory, with Waller and McDonald winning the Melbourne Cup for the first time.

Last year’s winner Twilight Payment failed to figure for trainer Joseph O’Brien.

McDonald was originally booked to ride Away He Goes for Ismail Mohammed, but after the British-trained runner suffered a setback last week, the rider switched to Verry Elleegant and he was thrilled to claim the Spring Carnival highlight.

“To pilot horses like Verry Elleegant each and every carnival is a huge privilege,” McDonald told www.racing.com.

“Today we are lucky enough to win a Melbourne Cup.

“I was booked for Away He Goes and sadly he went amiss. When one door closes another one opens.”

Waller was not on course as he remained in Sydney, but his representative Jo Taylor expressed the team’s delight at Verry Elleegant’s four-length verdict.

She said: “This is unreal, I think this is what everyone in Australian racing dreams of. It’s just such a pity Chris can’t be here, he certainly deserves this more than anyone.

“The entire team is very emotional and it means the world to us.”

Spanish Mission ran a fine race in third
Spanish Mission ran a fine race in third (Alan Crowhurs/PA)

Tony Noonan has been overseeing Spanish Mission’s preparations in Australia on Balding’s behalf and he reported the handler to be thrilled with the run, beaten just half a length by Incentivise.

He said: “Straight after the horse went over the line, I rang him (Balding) and he was ecstatic. It’s an enormous training performance – this horse hasn’t run for months.

“He sent him over a really fit horse and it’s just fantastic.

“He looks like he could go around again. He’s got an amazing aerobic capacity. His recovery from his work since he’s been here is just awesome. He’s a proper horse.”

Incentivise was sent off the shortest-priced favourite since Phar Lap in 1930 and while he ultimately fell short, trainer Peter Moody’s assistant Catherine Coleman was more than satisfied with his first try at two miles.

“He was absolutely super and we couldn’t be prouder of him. His first go at that trip carrying that weight, he has been absolutely phenomenal today,” Coleman said.

“Brett (Prebble) rode him to perfection today, he’s just run into an absolute champion in Verry Elleegant. She’s just a phenomenon this mare, and Chris has done such a wonderful job. We just take our hat off to her.”

Spanish primed for Melbourne Cup Mission

Spanish Mission is expected to make a bold bid for Lexus Melbourne Cup glory by the team who have been overseeing his Australian preparations.

The five-year-old, who finished third in the Ascot Gold Cup and ran Stradivarius to a head in the Lonsdale Cup in August, is trained by Andrew Balding, but due to staff travel issues when the horse shipped, his lead up has been supervised by Tom Noonan and his father Tony.

Spanish Mission has not had a prep race in Australia, but Tom Noonan reports the son of Noble Mission to be in fine form, despite a late scare with a swollen leg that required a late veterinary check on Saturday.

Spanish Mission represents Andrew Balding
Spanish Mission represents Andrew Balding (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He told www.racing.com: “It was, for us, a minor issue. We weren’t too concerned. Once we’d sorted out what the problem was and where it was stemming from, we were quite confident that we were going to get it under control.

“He definitely is a real athlete. He’s just a gentleman. For a six-year-old colt (in southern hemisphere) – it can be hard work sometimes dealing with colts – but his nature and temperament is world class.

“It has been an absolute privilege and honour to work with this horse and to work for Andrew.”

Local runner Incentivise is a short price to follow up his Caulfield Cup win at Flemington, but Noonan thinks Spanish Mission is the one to beat.

“I think he is. I think he is a true champion. He’s shown world class obviously,” said Noonan.

“I think it’s going to be a real interesting day. Incentivise is a fantastic horse and the horse to beat as well, but I think we’ll give him a run for his money.”

Joseph O’Brien is due to be at Flemington on Tuesday
Joseph O’Brien is due to be at Flemington on Tuesday (Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA)

Joseph O’Brien could not be on course to see Twilight Payment give him a second Melbourne Cup win last year, following Rekindling in 2017, but a change to quarantine rules in Victoria in recent days means he will be on course to see his stable star’s defence of the title.

Mark Power has been managing Twilight Payment’s preparations at Werribee and he is delighted O’Brien will be able to be at Flemington this time.

He said: “Joseph is on the way and it’s great to have him over here. Just the way things have worked out with hotel quarantine enabled him to come over so it will be brilliant to see him after missing out last year.

Twilight Payment must shoulder top weight of 9st 2lb in the two-mile Group One – 6lb more than last year – but given his European form, including finishing second in the Irish St Leger last time out, the team were not surprised for his hefty burden.

Twilight Payment defends his Melbourne Cup title
Twilight Payment defends his Melbourne Cup title (PA)

Power said: “We’ve known that from last year after carrying 55.5 (kgs) last year and the way he’s run all summer at home that he was always going to get a boost in the weights.

“We think and we hope he can carry it anyway.

“It’s all gone really smoothly since he arrived here. We are really looking forward to it.”

Incentivise arrives unbeaten in his last nine starts, including three Group Ones since September in the Makybe Diva and Turnbull Stakes, plus the Caulfield Cup.

He is as short as 6-4 with some bookmakers as he moves up to two miles, but trainer Peter Moody is full of confidence in his charge.

“I’m not nervous, and once again, for the fact the horse has made it easy for me; he’s done everything asked of him,” he told his podcast, Moody On The Mic.

“I just hope he gets his chance, which his racing pattern tends to give him that chance.

“I believe if he holds that form, and what I’ve seen at home tells me he will hold his form, he should just about win the race.”

Other leading hopes include the ex-Richard Hannon-trained Floating Artist, top-class mare Verry Elleegant and Sir Lucan, who will be having his first start for Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott having previously been trained by Aidan O’Brien.

Spanish Mission cleared for Melbourne Cup run

Spanish Mission has been cleared to run in the Lexus Melbourne Cup and will start from stall 14 in Tuesday’s Flemington feature.

Andrew Balding’s British raider had to pass a late veterinary check on Saturday before being allowed to participate having been treated for swelling in one of his legs.

The Racing Victoria vets gave him the go-ahead to race and he will line up under Craig Williams in the Group One highlight as the general 6-1 second favourite behind home-trained runner Incentivise.

Peter Moody’s charge has won three Group One heats, including the Caulfield Cup, on his lead up to the race and his handler believes stall 16 is an “ideal” draw for Brett Prebble’s mount.

He told www.racing.com: “We’ll get a good run from there, he’s a roll-forward type of horse, when we have a look at the race, we’ll weigh it up what might happen tempo-wise.

“Probably just didn’t want to draw too low and have to dig up.”

Last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment is saddled with top weight and Joseph O’Brien’s charge will be in stall two of 24.

Chris Waller has elected to run star mare Verry Elleegant, who finished seventh in the race last year, and she was drawn in stall 19.

Other familiar names in the line up include Sir Lucan, a Navan Listed winner earlier in the year for Aidan O’Brien, who now represents Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott and ex-Richard Hannon runner Floating Artist, now with Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.

Spanish faces late vet check ahead of Melbourne Mission

Spanish Mission will undergo a late veterinary inspection on Saturday ahead of his planned run in Tuesday’s Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

Andrew Balding’s British raider was found to have swelling in a foreleg at his initial check on Thursday and the Racing Victoria vets were not completely satisfied after a further inspection on Friday.

Trainer Tony Noonan and his son Tom have overseen Spanish Mission’s preparation for Balding as the handler’s British staff were unable to make the trip due to travel difficulties.

Final acceptances for Tuesday’s Group One feature are taken on Saturday and Noonan is confident Spanish Mission will be given the go-ahead to run.

He told www.racing.com: “Unfortunately, he had a little bit of a fusion in the pastern yesterday afternoon.

“He’d obviously rolled and probably given the joint a bit of a knock.

“He was a sound horse this morning, presented well, worked under saddle without an issue.

“Racing Victoria vets had inspected him at midday and found that he just wasn’t as good as they would have liked at this point in time.

“We’ve trotted him up again since their departure without a sleeve, which they put on his pastern to monitor his action and without the sleeve there, his trotted out soundly again.

“I think he’s probably got an infection under the skin; our vets have looked at that.

“He’ll probably go on a course of antibiotics this afternoon and I’d expect improvement really quickly.”

Spanish Mission, winner of the Yorkshire Cup, was last seen being beaten a head by Stradivarius in the Lonsdale Cup at York in August.

He is as low as 9-2 with William Hill and Betfred for the race and Noonan does not think his supporters should be concerned.

He added: “I would think there’s no doubt (about his participation), at this point in time.

“He was a sound horse under saddle this morning, he’s been sound right through, so this has just come out of left field, which can happen with horses, but I think we’re pretty well on the target as far as what’s caused it, and once we treat him, I think we’ll get a really quick response.”

Joseph O’Brien strikes Melbourne gold again with Twilight Payment

Joseph O’Brien once again denied his father Aidan in the Lexus Melbourne Cup as Twilight Payment made all to lift the Group One contest at Flemington.

The trainer registered his first win when Rekindling held off O’Brien snr’s Johannes Vermeer by half a length in 2017, and the distance was the same this time around as Tiger Moth just failed to reel in the Jye McNeil-ridden winner.

Charlie Fellowes’ British raider Prince Of Arran, placed in the last two Melbourne Cups, came agonisingly close to victory once again, finishing with purpose to be beaten a head in third in a race that was marred by the death of last year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, who was euthanised after fracturing a fetlock.

Of beating his father once again in the Australian event, O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing: “We both realise how hard it is to win on the world stage in these big, big races, but I am very lucky that I have been able to win a couple of big races.

“Dad has been very lucky, he has won a lot of big races, I’d be delighted for him if he had won, and I’m sure he is for me having won. We do our best on the track and whatever happens out there happens.

“I was really too nervous to see what was going to happen. I was hardly able to watch, but it was a fantastic ride by Jye and a fantastic effort by all the lads with the horse.”

McNeil executed a perfect front-running ride, with the field well strung out on the home turn before Twilight Payment, who was previously trained by Jim Bolger and finished 11th in the race last year, kept finding for pressure in the finish.

McNeil told www.racing.com: “I encouraged him (Twilight Payment) to go forward, because that was the plan. Then he just found such a lovely tempo at the top. It was just a matter of amping the rhythm up at just the right stage and I am glad it all worked out.

“Joseph wanted me to be a step ahead of the field and really get them chasing. What he lacks in class, he makes up in his staying ability.

“I’m peaking on my run 200m out. I’m using all of my might not to use too many whips, very vocal, trying to encourage him.

“It was very surreal crossing the line in front. I’ve got goosebumps from then and they’re still here now.”

O’Brien added: “Jye gave the horse a fantastic ride. Credit goes to the lads who have looked after Twilight Payment for the last month or so. They’ve done a fantastic job with the horses down there.”

Kerrin McEvoy was thrilled with Tiger Moth’s effort in second, beaten half a length, on what was only his fifth career start, but there was a sting in the tail for the rider, who was fined $50,000 and banned for 13 meetings for misusing his whip.

McEvoy pleaded guilty to the charge after it was found he hit Moth 13 times before the 100-metre (half-furlong) mark and 21 times in total. He is not permitted to strike his mount more than five times before the 100-metre mark.

Tiger Moth finished second for Aidan O'Brien
Tiger Moth finished second for Aidan O’Brien (PA)

McEvoy said: “It was a great run for a young horse having only his fifth start in a race. He’s run really well.”

Fellowes and rider Jamie Kah were ruing their luck after Prince Of Arran endured a troubled passage at the top of the straight, before flying home to claim third, adding to his second of last year and third in 2018.

The Newmarket handler said: “He’s a remarkable horse. He’s done everything right and if he had enjoyed a bit more luck, he could well have gone even closer.

“He was just very unlucky on the home bend. Jamie had him in a perfect position, she got him into a good rhythm and then he couldn’t find a run, which we knew was a risk from his draw, but he’s run a great race.

“Take nothing away from the winner though – Jye McNeil gave him a brilliant and brave ride from the front and he got his fractions absolutely spot on. The best horse won on the day.”

Prince Of Arran is now likely to head to the Saudi Cup meeting at Riyadh in February, with Fellowes not planning too far ahead with his stable star.

He added: “I just felt this year was his year. He had a perfect preparation and it looked a winnable race, but we just needed a bit more luck.

Prince Of Arran was placed once again
Prince Of Arran was placed once again (Graham Clark/PA)

“We will get him home and see how he is, but Saudi Arabia would likely be the next stop.

“We will just take it one race at a time with him. He’s a seven-year-old and while he does save a bit for himself, which perhaps could give him a longer shelf life at that top level, if ever we were worried about him, either in preparation or after a race, we wouldn’t take any chances.

“He’s an amazing horse and owes us nothing.”

Anthony Van Dyck sustains fatal Melbourne Cup injury

Anthony Van Dyck, winner of last year’s Derby, has been euthanised after fracturing a fetlock in the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

Aidan O’Brien’s four-year-old famously prevailed in a tight finish to the Epsom Classic last term and struck gold in the Prix Foy at ParisLongchamp in September, beating three-times Gold Cup hero Stradivarius.

Anthony Van Dyck was saddled with top weight in the Melbourne Cup after being edged out in the Caulfield Cup on his most recent outing, but he was pulled up by Hugh Bowman in the feature race.

Racing Victoria’s executive general manager – integrity services, Jamie Stier said: “It is with sadness that we confirm that Anthony Van Dyck had to be humanely euthanised after sustaining a fractured fetlock during the running of the Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

“The horse received immediate veterinary care, however he was unable to be saved due to the nature of the injury sustained.

“Our sympathies are extended to the owners of Anthony Van Dyck, trainer Aidan O’Brien and all his staff who cared for the horse and are greatly saddened by their loss.”

Stier added a fatality report will now be prepared by the RV integrity services team as is standard practice.

He said: “The fatality report gives consideration to the circumstances of the incident and any potential learnings to assist in the prevention of similar injuries in the future.

“The report will include the findings of a post-mortem which will now be conducted by the University of Melbourne Veterinary Clinic and we expect it will be several weeks before we have a completed report for consideration.”

Anthony Van Dyck won six of his 19 starts, amassing over £2.3 million in prize money, with the son of Galileo also counting the Tyros Stakes, the Futurity and Lingfield Derby Trial amongst his victories.

The Victoria Racing Club tweeted: “The Victoria Racing Club extends its condolences to the owners, trainer Aidan O’Brien and his team who cared for Anthony Van Dyck and are saddened by their loss. We would like to thank the track and veterinary staff for their prompt and humane care of the horse.

“The Club remains totally committed to the welfare of all equine athletes and the ongoing focus on their wellbeing and will continue to work with the industry to understand the cause of this incident.”

Joseph O’Brien bags second Melbourne Cup with Twilight Payment

Joseph O’Brien sent out his second winner of the Lexus Melbourne Cup as Twilight Payment triumphed in the Group One contest at Flemington.

O’Brien claimed the two-mile event with Rekindling in 2017 and he again was on the mark as Jye McNeil’s mount fended off Tiger Moth, trained by O’Brien’s father Aidan, to take the prize.

Charlie Fellowes’ British raider Prince Of Arran, placed in the last two Melbourne Cups, again finished with a flourish to take third.

However, the race was marred by a fatal injury to last year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, who was euthanised after fracturing a fetlock.

McNeil had his mount prominent throughout with Tiger Moth also to the fore in the early stages before settling back into third.

With five furlongs to run, the 23-strong field was well strung out and Twilight Payment was winding it up in front and Twilight Payment had lengths to spare entering the closing stages.

However, Tiger Moth charged home late, but Joseph O’Brien again denied his father, as he did three years ago when Rekindling beat Johannes Vermeer.

Joseph O'Brien is now a dual Melbourne Cup winner
Joseph O’Brien is now a dual Melbourne Cup winner (PA)

O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing: “Jye gave the horse a fantastic ride. Credit goes to the lads who have looked after Twilight Payment for the last month or so. They’ve done a fantastic job with the horses down there.

“This was our first full year with him, he came to us halfway through last year. Going through the summer, he ran a couple of huge races at the Curragh.

“I was worried today he might have got a bit of pressure on the lead, but the horse has an incredible heart and Jye gave him a fantastic ride and he has a huge will to win.”

Twilight Payment was previously trained by Jim Bolger, until he was bought by Lloyd Williams, who also owned Rekindling.

O’Brien said: “It’s a privilege to train for the people that I train for and the horses that we have.

“We really appreciate the support and the success when it comes, but it’s a tough game as everybody knows and it’s a fine line from the top and the bottom. I’m just very appreciative.

“The proof that he got the fractions spot on is watching the race when you see Tiger Moth finish, but the horse is incredible and I’m just thankful of the support and the work everyone has done with the horse, at home as well.”

Aidan O'Brien had to settle for second behind Joseph again
Aidan O’Brien had to settle for second behind Joseph again (PA)

Of beating his father once again in the Australian event, O’Brien added: “We both realise how hard it is to win on the world stage in these big, big races, but I am very lucky that I have been able to win a couple of big races.

“Dad has been very lucky, he has won a lot of big races, I’d be delighted for him if he had won, and I’m sure he is for me having won. We do our best on the track and whatever happens out there happens.

“I was really too nervous to see what was going to happen. I was hardly able to watch, but it was a fantastic ride by Jye and a fantastic effort by all the lads with the horse.”

Tiger Moth finished second for Aidan O'Brien
Tiger Moth finished second for Aidan O’Brien (PA)

Kerrin McEvoy was thrilled with Tiger Moth’s effort in second, beaten half a length, on what was only his fifth career start.

He told www.racing.com: “We were able to get across into a nice spot. We dropped in and got a nice lead and he travelled really well.

“The winner kept running, I just had to pick up to get into the race, which he did, but the winner was just a bit strong today.

“It was a great run for a young horse having only his fifth start in a race. He’s run really well.”

Prince Of Arran was finishing fastest of all at the line and jockey Jamie Kah was left ruing her luck after their three-quarter-length defeat.

She said: “He was super unlucky. He really deserves it. He just had no luck on the turn.”

Fellowes tweeted: “Incredibly proud of Prince Of Arran. Another wonderful run in Australia’s great race. Thank you
@AledBeech for looking after him so well, thank you Jamie Kah for a lovely ride, thank you to the Obaida family for sending him to me to train. 4th time lucky next year?”

Dashing Willoughby finished down the field at Flemington
Dashing Willoughby finished down the field at Flemington (Bill Selwyn/PA)

The Willie Mullins-trained Stratum was 20th and jockey Jordan Childs said: “He ran OK. We got up on a nice spot, travelled good. They were just a bit slick for him when the pace quickened.”

Dashing Willoughby beat just one horse home for trainer Andrew Balding.

His rider Michael Walker said: “He’s not right, the horse. He’s not right. Action-wise he’s not right.”

German runner Ashrun finished 10th while last year’s winner Vow And Declare was 18th.