Two ARF countries winners after the 2019 Melbourne Cup

There were just two Australian-bred horses in the 2019, A$8m, Group 1 Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday, November 5th, out of an assembled field of 22 internationally bred runners and one of them, Vow And Declare, ridden by Craig Williams and trained by Danny O’Brien, won the race.

Vow And Declare  and Craig Williams (orange and White) win the 2019 Group 1 Melbourne Cup at Flemington, picture
Vow And Declare and Craig Williams (orange and White) win the 2019 Group 1 Melbourne Cup at Flemington, picture

It was a first win in the Melbourne Cup for Williams and O’Brien and they triumphed over the massed ranks of multiple international stables and jockeys.
Another Asian Racing Federation member, Japan, might not have won with Group 1 Caulfield Cup winner Mer De Glace (JPN) sixth under Damien Lane, but the country was also a winner with Vow And Declare’s sire Declaration Of War (USA) (War Front) now standing in Japan.

Not only did Declaration Of War sire the Melbourne Cup winner but also Warning, the winner of the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington on Saturday.

Declaration Of War entered stud at Coolmore Stud in Ireland and shuttled to Coolmore Australia in 2014. He was relocated to Ashford Stud in Kentucky in 2015 and stood at JBBA's Shizunai Stallion Station in Japan for the 2019 breeding season.

Before a crowd of over 80,000 at Flemington on Tuesday Craig Williams had the task of bringing Vow And Declare across from barrier 23 and he accomplished this so well that he slotted Vow And Declare into the leading group, on the rails and there they stayed. At the 1400m they were fourth behind Twilight Payment (IRE) and Hugh Bowman, Master Of Reality (IRE) and Frankie Dettori and Prince Of Arran (GB) and Michael Walker.

At the 900m they were third and well positioned carrying just 52kg for the run home. By the 400m Dettori had Master Of Reality (55.5kg) out in the middle of the track and leading with Williams and Vow And Declare down on the rails saving crucial ground.

Michael Walker and Prince Of Arran (GB) (54kg) were chasing Master Of Reality out in the middle and further out again Finche (GB) (54kg) and Kerrin McEvoy were making a bid.

Master Of Reality was still leading at the 200m and 100m, but Vow And Declare was still there on the inside and Prince Of Arran was making progress. Il Paradiso (USA) (52.5kg and Wayne Lordan came out from the field racing just outside Vow And Declare.

All of them were slowly gaining on Master Of Reality and Dettori was riding furiously. The outcome was that was a tiring Master Of Reality drifted a long way left under the pressure of the finish and Dettori’s riding and they collided with Il Paradiso just strides before the line.

Vow And Declare had used those strides make his final and successful bid for victory, Master Of Reality had pushed Il Paradiso inwards and Prince Of Arron and Walker arrived for what was originally signalled as third.

Vow And Declare was the winner by a head and O’Brien, Williams and connections were able to celebrate secure in the knowledge they had achieved their mark on history.

The Racing Victoria stewards’ promoted Prince Of Arron (Shirocco) and Walker to second after the interference, Il Paradiso (Galileo) and Lordan were promoted to third and Master Of Reality and Dettori demoted to fourth.

Completing the first ten were, in finish order, Surprise Baby (NZ), Mer De Glace (JPN), Finche, Cross Counter (GB), Steel Prince (IRE) and Magic Wand (IRE).

The official margins were a head, nose and half head. The time was 3.24.76 on the Soft 5 track with the final 600m in 34.75.

“It is an amazing thing to happen. I really cannot believe it. I feel incredibly blessed to have had a horse good enough to be in it. He was ridden so beautifully by Craig. The last 100m he wouldn’t give in, wouldn’t give in and put his head out on the line and now we have won the Melbourne Cup,” said O'Brien.

“I left it up to Craig. It has been the winning move. He rolled the dice, he is an outstanding jockey and he was not afraid to try something different. Ultimately it was the winning move," he said.

“Danny O’Brien has got a fantastic story with him. It was a privilege to ride him today. We had a difficult barrier draw. It has been great to be associated with a great horse like this horse. I rode him on debut, James Winks won his maiden at Warrnambool 12 months ago and he progressed,” said Williams.
“I cannot do this without him (Vow And Declare). Look at him, he knows he won and again, I am so grateful to be given the opportunity.

“I really want to thank all of the people who came out today. Not only is this our greatest race that stops a nation, as you can see by the form book, today it is targeted by horses from all around the world and we did it today with an Australian horse,” he said.

Vow And Declare, a four-year-old gelding by Declaration Of War out of the Testa Rossa mare Geblitzt, was second in the Group 1 Caulfield Cup over 2400m on October 19th after being fourth in the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes over 2000m on October 5th.

Lightly raced with 13 starts, Vow And Declare has now won four and placed in five with stakes of A$5,722,690 after the first prize money from Tuesday’s win of A$4,400,000.