It was an Australian win in the 159th Lexus Melbourne Cup as Vow and Declare delivered a thrilling finish to the $8 million ‘race that stops a nation’ ™ at Flemington Racecourse.
The 4-year-old gelding held off Master of Reality and Prince of Arran to secure Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien and champion jockey Craig Williams their first wins in Australia’s greatest race.
Following a protest, Master of Realty was demoted to fourth and last year’s third-place getter Prince of Arran was shifted to second with Il Paradiso promoted into third.
Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson said it was a thrilling spectacle.
“Congratulations to Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien and jockey Craig Williams on their first wins in the Lexus Melbourne Cup, and to the connections of Vow and Declare.
“The Lexus Melbourne Cup attracts the finest Australian and international staying horses as well as thousands of people who travel to Melbourne from interstate and overseas to join Victorians in being part of the race that stops a nation.
“It’s brilliant to see the Lexus Melbourne Cup trophy remain in Melbourne after what was such an exciting finish to our great race in front of 81,408 racegoers at Flemington,” Mr Wilson said.
Mr Wilson also congratulated the community of Bunyip, Victoria which was the winning Lexus Melbourne Cup National Sweep destination.
“The VRC is proud to present the community of Bunyip with $50,000 to put towards the community initiative Bunyip and District Community House.”
Following Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, Damien Oliver leads the Ron Hutchison Award for jockeys during Melbourne Cup Carnival with 15 points, while Chris Waller leads the JB Cummings Award for trainers on 13 points.
The pre-Cup entertainment featured a musical tribute to the iconic ‘People’s Cup’ with a medley of the unofficial anthems of Australia. With the support of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir, Mahalia Barnes performed You’re the Voice followed by ARIA Hall of Fame artist John Paul Young and Love is in the Air.
The Lexus Melbourne Cup was delivered to VRC Chairman Amanda Elliott in the Mounting Yard by Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassador Tegan Martin escorted by flag bearers and owners representing each of the horses competing in the ‘race that stops a nation’™.
To the sounds of Down Under, the 24 jockeys were introduced to the Mounting Yard, before musical theatre leading man Michael Cormick performed This is the Moment in a special tribute to this year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup competitors. The ceremony concluded with ARIA Award-winning artist Anthony Callea singing the national anthem.
In The Park Birds of Tokyo and Owl Eyes hit the stage in Flemington’s fashion, food and entertainment precinct, free for all racegoers.
The chic and exclusive Birdcage hosted local and international stars including model Lady Kitty Spencer at Lexus, American actress Lindsay Lohan at Network 10, champion sprinter Usain Bolt at Mumm, Hollywood director Paul Feig at Kennedy, Geelong star forward Tom Hawkins at Furphy, models Jesinta Franklin and Gemma Ward at Bumble, and former Bachelor Nick Cummins at 1 Oliver St.
At Myer Fashions on the Field, New Zealander Carena West took out the Women’s Racewear Daily Final in a self-made dress using vintage embroidered fabric, green Claire Hahn millinery and Tony Bianco shoes. Carena will compete for the Victoria title and entry into the National Final on Kennedy Oaks Day.
South African Dan Ntumba won the Men’s Racewear Final wearing a navy blue Ken suit with striped trousers and Sergio Matteo maroon loafers.
Jason Checuti won the Emerging Designer Award with his brand Checuti Couture. His winning outfit featured a floral rose haute couture dress with a draped rose inspired by Flemington, Billini shoes and clutch, and Checuti millinery.
The Melbourne Cup Carnival continues on Thursday with Kennedy Oaks Day, featuring the Group 1 Kennedy Oaks and the national final of Myer Fashions on the Field. The day begins with a vibrant garden picnic at Nova Lunch on the Lawn with a live performance from legendary former ‘Queen of Pop’ Marcia Hines ahead of the first race at 1.50pm.
Melbourne Cup Carnival tickets are still available for purchase from Flinders Street, Southern Cross, North Melbourne, Essendon, South Yarra, Werribee and Richmond train stations or racegoers can jump the queues and buy online from Ticketek on their mobiles, even on race day. Admission is free for children under 16 accompanied by an adult.