Vow and Declare wins Melbourne Cup

Jockey Craig Williams, right, rides the Australian-bred Vow and Declare to victory against a legion of foreign rivals in the Melbourne Cup in Melbourne on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 06 November 2019

Vow and Declare wins Melbourne Cup

MELBOURNE: Lightweight chance Vow and Declare, the only Australian-bred runner in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup, held off a legion of foreign rivals to win Australia’s greatest horse race for its local trainer, jockey and owners.

The 11-1 shot hugged the running rail in the last stages of the two mile handicap to just hold out Ireland-trained Master of Reality, ridden by star jockey Frankie Dettori who, in a glittering career, has yet to win the $8 million ($5.5 million) Melbourne Cup.

In a sensation after the race, Master of Reality was relegated from second to fourth place for causing interference to another Ireland-trained runner, Il Paradiso, which was fourth across the line.

Master of Reality is trained by Joseph O’Brien at Kilkenny and Il Paradiso by his father, famous trainer Aiden O’Brien. Joseph O’Brien won the 2017 Melbourne Cup with Rekindling, edging out his father’s runner Johannes Vermeer.

The relegation of Master of Reality saw England-trained Prince of Arran promoted from third to second place and Il Paradiso to third.

Vow and Declare endured the bumping finish to deliver a first Cup victory for his Australian trainer, Danny O’Brien and also the first for Australian rider Craig Williams in 15 attempts.

O’Brien said the task of winning the Melbourne Cup against runners from Britain, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand had “a bit of David and Goliath” about it.

“It’s a special thing to happen and I really can’t believe it,” O’Brien said. “It’s a privilege to have a horse good enough to be in it and then for him to be ridden so brilliantly by Craig.

“In the last stages he just wouldn’t give in and wouldn’t give in and he put his head out on the line and won the Melbourne Cup.”

Starting from the second-widest barrier in the 24-horse field, Vow and Declare ran prominently throughout the race and took the lead down the long straight at Melbourne’s Flemington racecourse as a crowd of more than 100,000 roared. Master of Reality challenged wider on the track and Prince of Arran flashed home late but the only Australian-bred hope held on.

“I was just lucky enough to sit on Vow and Declare,” Williams said. “Without the hard work of everyone at the stable we don’t have this horse.

“Danny O’Brien’s done a wonderful job with him and it was a privilege to ride him today. We had a difficult barrier draw and I just had to trust him and know what we can do. It’s great to be associated with a great horse.

“The bit of bumping that he endured late actually spurred him along. I grew up and watched races, wrote stories, dreamed of these occasions. But I couldn’t do it without Vow and Declare.”

The Melbourne Cup, raced since 1861 on the first Tuesday in November, is known as “the race that stops a nation.” The race begins at 3pm and Australia comes to a standstill as people in workplaces around the nation, including the national parliament, gather around televisions to watch.

The fields for the race have become increasingly international in recent years and Australian winners have become rare. Vow and Declare is owned by a group of small-time owners, mainly from Australia’s east coast.

It was No. 23 in a 24-horse field.

Tokyo to skip one-year Olympic countdown over coronavirus: organizers

Updated 2 min 56 sec ago

Tokyo to skip one-year Olympic countdown over coronavirus: organizers

  • Games pushed back until July 23, 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak

TOKYO: Tokyo will scrap events marking a year to go until the postponed 2020 Olympic Games, organizers said Friday, citing the “current economic situation” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Games have been pushed back until July 23, 2021 because of the disease outbreak, though it remains unclear whether even that delay will be sufficient.
Last year, the city and organizers held a series of events to mark the one-year countdown, including unveiling the newly designed medals.
But given the global crisis, organizers ruled out a similar celebration.
“In view of the current economic situation, Tokyo 2020 will not be holding any events to mark the new one year to go milestone for the Games,” the organizers said.
“But we will consider what we can do to show our solidarity with the people.”
The confirmation came after reports in the Japanese media that organizers would scrap the event, fearing it was inappropriate given the global pandemic and the ongoing risk of infection inside Japan.
Kyodo News agency reported that posters and messages of encouragement to athletes might be put up and displayed online instead, adding that the organizing committee felt a more “moderate tone” was appropriate.
A nationwide state of emergency over the virus has been lifted in Japan, but a recent rise in cases in Tokyo has led to fears of a second wave.
The latest reports come after Tokyo’s governor confirmed the city and organizers are looking at ways to scale back next year’s Games.
Japanese media said streamlining plans could involve cutting the number of spectators and reducing participation in the opening and closing ceremonies.
The Yomiuri Shimbun daily quoted an unnamed source as saying that everyone including athletes, officials and spectators would be required to take a test for the virus.
Tokyo 2020 declined to comment on those reports, saying discussions about coronavirus countermeasures would be held “from this autumn onwards.”
Organizers and Tokyo officials face the twin headaches of ensuring the postponed Games can be held safely, given the pandemic, and keeping additional costs to a minimum.
But with the pandemic continuing to rage in much of the world, it remains unclear whether the Games can be held next year.
On Friday, a member of the organizing committee’s executive board said a decision on whether the Games could be held or not would need to be taken in spring.
“I think we need to decide around March next year,” Toshiaki Endo, a former Olympic minister told reporters, denying speculation that the IOC intends to make a decision in October.
IOC chief Thomas Bach said last month that 2021 was the “last option” for holding the Tokyo Games, stressing that postponement cannot go on forever.
He declined to say whether a vaccine was a prerequisite for going ahead with the Olympics, but was lukewarm on the idea of holding them behind closed doors.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said it would be “difficult” to hold the postponed Tokyo Olympics if the coronavirus pandemic is not contained.
And Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori has said the Olympics would have to be canceled if the disease isn’t under control by next year.