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By Jack Petley | Wednesday, November 4, 2020

There is a much used saying, "The Luck of the Irish." Well, that certainly was to the fore at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November when 27-year-old Joseph O'Brien gained his second Melbourne Cup for Lloyd Williams with that incredible end to end win by Twilight Payment.

But that saying certainly doesn't hold for his famous father, Aidan. This Australian campaign has been racked with wretched bad luck. Firstly, that smart sprinter-miler Wichita broke down. Then he managed only second place in the Caulfield Cup with Anthony Van Dyke behind Verry Eleegant. Next up the WS Cox Plate, second again with Armory behind Sir Dragonet … and missing from that field, the globetrotting mare Magic Wand, who suffering a setback and has now retired to stud. And then, in the Cup, his superbly bred three-year-old Tiger Moth ran ever so gamely but could not run down the flying Twilight Payment. But worst luck of all, that wonderful stayer and his Epsom Derby winner, Anthony Van Dyke smashed a fetlock before the home bend in the Cup, was pulled up by Hugh Bowman, and he was humanely euthanised.

The win by Twilight Payment continued the wonderful success in the Melbourne Cup for British and Irish trained stayers. Dermott Weld became the first raider to accept the Cup in front of a packed Flemington racetrack back in 1993.

Both of those Melbourne Cup winners for Joseph O'Brien (Rekindling and Twilight Payment) had Team Williams, headed by Lloyd Williams, in the ownership. Lloyd Williams has now won the Cup seven times, and who would begrudge him that success as he has poured millions upon millions into his chase to win the most elusive big race in Australia, maybe the world.

Joseph O'Brien, like his Dad, watched the race from afar because of Covid-19. He was quoted in the UK media as saying: "I can't thank Lloyd and Nick Williams enough for everything they do for me. They are both incredible and this is a fantastic result for them … I am hugely privileged."

O'Brien was a highly successful jockey before turning his hand to training and what a success he has been, two Melbourne Cups, an Irish Derby, Irish Gold Cup, St Leger, Galway Hurdle, Galway Plate, and Breeders Cup.

Kerrin McEvoy was on the runner up, Tiger Moth, and he said the colt ran the "race of his life,” adding that it was a huge effort by a young galloper having only his fifth start in a race so tough on horses. "The winner was just a little strong, but my horse just tried his heart out."

But the news was not great for McEvoy in the wash up. He received a 13-day suspension when overusing the whip. He used his whip, stewards said, 13 times before the 100 metre mark and 21 times in total. As well, he was fined a hefty $50,000 … he rides on Oaks day and then will sit out the period he is suspended.

That was an ever so game third by Prince of Arran … very unlucky I thought … and his trainer Charlie Fellowes said afterwards that he may be back for his fourth try at the cup in 2021 adding, "hopefully I can be there too. I am incredibly proud of the horse," he said from his UK home.

Within hours of the result of the 2020 Cup the market was released for the 2021 event at Flemington with Tiger Moth favourite at $15 ahead of Prince of Arran and Twilight Payment at $18, Ashrun, Finche, Russian Camelot The Chosen One and Verry Elleegant sit amongst several others on $25.

That win for Twilight Payment, earned by a brilliant ride by Jye McNeil, earned the connections a pretty solid $4,268,000 and Tiger Moth earned $1,067,000 so running second certainly was not that bad.

The big run, I thought, was from the Kiwi The Chosen One. His cheque was $333,000 for that ever so game fourth. "For a fleeting moment I got excited," said his co trainer Andrew Forsman." I then looked again and saw how strong the leader was going. I just hoped our horse would hold third. It was a gutsy run and a great ride from Daniel Stackhouse." The son of Savabeel has certainly had a good carnival winning a handicap race over 1700 metres, finishing a game third in the Caulfield Cup and fourth in the big one.

Verry Elleegant was never in the picture being ever so far back during the race and in a seemingly impossible position off the home bend to gain a placing. She ended up seventh and collected $155,000 for her efforts and Oceanex, the Ocean Park mare ran 11th and gained $155,2000. No luck for Surprise Baby and Miami Bound.

Remember the colours of the late Dato Chin Nam, who had so many big race wins along with Bart Cummings. Well the colours were to the fore on Cup day when carried successfully in the Furphy Plate by Purple Sector in the hands of Craig Williams. The winner was purchased by Duncan Ramage for $60,000 out of the draft of Trelawney Stud in 2017 and he has now been successful four times and gained six placings for trainer, John Thompson. "Wonderful to see the colours carried to success on Cup day," said Ramage. The winner will now head towards the $1m The Gong at Kembla later this month.

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