The Lexus Melbourne Cup will be heading back to Macedon Lodge following Twilight Payment’s all-the-way win in Tuesday’s $7.75 million race that stops a nation.
Champion trainer Joseph O’Brien secured his second Cup after a terrific ride from 25-year-old jockey Jye McNeil, who rolled straight to the front and didn’t look back over the famous two-mile race.
McNeil was brave enough to press forward ahead of Kerrin McEvoy and Tiger Moth as the pair led the rest of the field by a whopping six lengths heading into the final turn.
Twilight Payment rounded the bend beautifully to kick away along the rails as McNeil simply let his horse shift through the gears to hold off Aidan O’Brien’s talented Irish stayer over the final furlong.
McNeil said after the race that he was a little worried about Twilight Payment’s early pace, but once he got a feel for the tempo, he was able to put his plan into action.
“I had to be positive because he was a little bit slow into gear. He jumped with them, but he was a touch slow to really find his rhythm” McNeil told racing.com.
“I encouraged him to go forward because that was the plan, and then he just found such a lovely tempo at the top, he got into a fantastic rhythm, breathing really well, and then it was just a matter of amping the tempo up at the right stage, I’m just glad it all worked out.”
McNeil’s aggressiveness paid huge dividends for O’Brien, who won the time-honoured race only three years ago with Rekindling.
A late market move on Tuesday saw Craig Williams and Surprise Baby firm into $6.50 co-favouritism with Tiger Moth, leaving Twilight Payment at very backable $26.00 each-way odds.
The eight-year-old won back-to-back starts at Curragh over the 2816m back in June and July, but always looked a decent chance getting out over further after running third in the Group 1 Irish St Leger (2816m) first-up in September.
According to McNeil, dictating from the front was always the plan as O’Brien tried to get the rest of the field off the bit nice and early.
“That’s exactly what Joseph wanted, he wanted me to be a step ahead of the field and really get them chasing, because what he sort of lacked in class he really makes up for in his staying ability, so that was always the plan that Joseph expressed to me and I’m glad it worked” McNeil added.
Tiger Moth looked in real trouble coming out of the turn but still did exceptionally well to find something extra to run second.
Not to be forgotten was Prince of Arran, who found the placings for the third year running after making up a stack of ground late to run third.
Twilight Payment also etched his spot in Melbourne Cup folklore by becoming the 19th import to win Australia’s most famous staying race. McNeil, meanwhile, helped himself to just his second Group 1 win.
“I’m peaking on my run 200m out, I’m using all my might not to use too many whips, very vocal trying to encourage him. It was very surreal crossing the line, I had goosebumps then and I still have them now” McNeil said with emotion.
Persan was the other eye-catcher to emerge from the race running only half a length fifth.
“Very proud, I expected him to run a race when they sneak in with that weight, just the prep he had, the confidence, he loves the track here. The only sort of negative was where he was drawn, but Micky (Michael Dee) wound up with a nice run, got a clean crack at them at the end and finished with a nice run,” co-trainer Ciaron Maher said.
There was no such luck for six-time Group 1 winner Verry Elleegant, who finished seventh one ahead of Russian Camelot.
Finche saw strong support but failed to fire down the straight, while Surprise Baby ran into some traffic finishing outside the top ten.
2020 Melbourne Cup Results & Finishing Order
|1||6||TWILIGHT PAYMENT (IRE)||Joseph O’Brien||Jye McNeil||12||55.5kg||$26|
|2||21||TIGER MOTH (IRE)||Aidan O’Brien||Kerrin McEvoy||0.4L||22||52.5kg||2.5kg||$6.50|
|3||12||PRINCE OF ARRAN (GB)||Charlie Fellowes||Jamie Kah||0.6L||1||54.5kg||$9.50|
|4||17||THE CHOSEN ONE (NZ)||Murray Baker & Andrew Forsman||Daniel Stackhouse||2.35L||5||53.5kg||$41|
|5||24||PERSAN||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Michael Dee||2.45L||19||51kg||1.0kg||$41|
|6||5||SIR DRAGONET (IRE)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Glen Boss||3.45L||14||55.5kg||$12|
|7||7||VERRY ELLEEGANT (NZ)||Chris Waller||Mark Zahra||3.85L||15||55.5kg||0.5kg||$10|
|8||15||RUSSIAN CAMELOT (IRE)||Danny O’Brien||Damien Oliver||3.95L||16||53.5kg||$13|
|9||11||FINCHE (GB)||Chris Waller||James McDonald||4.7L||6||54.5kg||$21|
|10||18||ASHRUN (FR)||Andreas Wohler||Declan Bates||4.8L||23||53kg||$26|
|11||22||OCEANEX (NZ)||Mick Price & Michael Kent (Jnr)||Dean Yendall||5.55L||17||51.5kg||$81|
|12||19||WARNING||Anthony & Sam Freedman||Luke Currie||6.8L||8||53kg||$41|
|13||13||SURPRISE BABY (NZ)||Paul Preusker||Craig Williams||8.8L||7||54.5kg||$6F|
|14||23||MIAMI BOUND (NZ)||Danny O’Brien||Daniel Moor||10.55L||13||51kg||$41|
|15||4||MASTER OF REALITY (IRE)||Joseph O’Brien||Ben Melham||10.75L||11||56kg||$19|
|16||16||STEEL PRINCE (IRE)||Anthony & Sam Freedman||William Pike||10.95L||20||53.5kg||1.0kg||$31|
|17||20||ETAH JAMES (NZ)||Ciaron Maher & David Eustace||Billy Egan||12.7L||21||52.5kg||$101|
|18||3||VOW AND DECLARE||Danny O’Brien||Jamie Mott||13.95L||4||57kg||$61|
|19||8||MUSTAJEER (GB)||Kris Lees||Michael Rodd||14.95L||2||55kg||$101|
|20||9||STRATUM ALBION (GB)||Willie Mullins||Jordan Childs||17.95L||9||55kg||$31|
|21||10||DASHING WILLOUGHBY (GB)||Andrew Balding||Michael Walker||19.2L||18||54.5kg||$101|
|22||2||AVILIUS (GB)||James Cummings||John Allen||20.95L||10||57kg||$61|
|FF||1||ANTHONY VAN DYCK (IRE)||Aidan O’Brien||Hugh Bowman||3||58.5kg||$10|
|14||KING OF LEOGRANCE (FR)||Danny O’Brien||Damian Lane||0|