A post-race protest has rocked the Melbourne Cup and pitted father and son trainers against each other.
Australian hopeful Vow and Declare finished strongly along the fence to win the Cup by a nose in sensational fashion, but it was the tussle for second, third and fourth which caught the eye of race officials.
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After the race, the stewards themselves lodged a protest against British jockey Frankie Dettori, who had ridden Master of Reality to second place, on behalf of fourth-placed Il Paradiso.
Il Paradiso is trained by Aidan O’Brien, while his son Joseph O’Brien prepared Master of Reality for Australian owner Lloyd Williams.
After nearly half an hour of deliberations following the race, Il Paradiso was promoted to third, Prince of Arran to second, and Master of Reality was bumped down to fourth place.
There was a mixed reaction to the protest among racing fans online - depending on how it affected their bets.
An upheld protest must surely disenfranchise the once-a-year punter. Necessary evil but does little to promote the sport going forward. #MelbourneCup— Pete Johnston (@Pistolla81) November 5, 2019
Cup winner Vow and Declare avoids protest
Fortunately for racing fans, the protest didn’t affect Melbourne Cup winner Vow and Declare.
Ridden by veteran hoop Craig Williams, Australian bred and trained Vow and Declare won the race from barrier 21, after starting at $11.
Williams famously missed the winning ride on the French-trained Dunaden in the 2011 Melbourne Cup because of suspension.
Eight years later, Williams joins Neville Sellwood, Roy Higgins, Pat Hyland, Mick Dittman, Jim Cassidy, Damien Oliver and Chris Munce as the only jockeys to win the "grand slam" of Australian racing - the Golden Slipper, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup.
"It's great to be associated with a great horse like this horse," Williams said.
In a desperate finish involving four horses, the Danny O'Brien-trained Vow And Declare took an inside run and put his head down when it counted to win in a photo finish.
The margins involving the placegetters across the line were a head between first and second with a nose to third.
For O'Brien the win was one that meant everything.
The trainer was involved in a protracted battle with officials over a cobalt case which he eventually won but the process took its toll on his business.
"It doesn't get much better than this," he said.
Runner-up in the Caulfield Cup, Vow And Declare started at $11 with Prince Of Arran at $17 and Il Paradiso a $15 chance.
Rostropovich was last of the 24 runners.