Vow And Declare

Craig Williams aboard Vow And Declare after their Melbourne Cup win (Image: Racing Photos)

Williams: Cup winner mentally stronger

A heavier Vow And Declare is stronger mentally to handle increased burdens that await this year according to jockey Craig Williams.

Williams, 42, won his first Melbourne Cup (3200m) when he guided the Danny O'Brien-trained Vow And Declare to victory in last year's $8m race.

Vow And Declare became the source of national pride to patriotic Australians in becoming the first locally-bred winner of the Melbourne Cup since Shocking in 2009. And with that increased profile comes added expectation when the four-year-old gelding by Declaration Of Heart steps out onto the racetrack.

Williams rode Vow And Declare at Cranbourne on Tuesday morning in his first official trial since winning the Melbourne Cup, finishing second of four runners over 1190 metres, five lengths behind Shepard.

"It was only a field of four so he either ran second or third last," quipped Williams, who also partnered the chestnut in an exhibition gallop in partnership with three-year-old stablemate Russian Camelot between races at Geelong last Wednesday.

WATCH: Vow And Declare's Cranbourne trial

"He's not a flash worker but his action was good and his recovery was amazing as always.

"He had a tendency of leaning a little bit left which is just normal to how he's going, and I just loved the way he's building up. He looks a lot fuller and mentally he's more mature, which is great."

O'Brien's stable foreman Ben Gleeson said Vow And Declare currently weighs ,530kg which is 50kg heavier than the day he won the Melbourne Cup.

Vow And Declare is expected to have another official trial before O'Brien determines whether he resumes over 2000m in the Australian Cup at Flemington on Super Saturday on March 7 or heads directly to Sydney before progressing to Brisbane for their Winter Carnival.

"It's certainly going to be challenging now having won that Melbourne Cup and he's going to be stepping out in very tough races in his prep but we're more than confident he can hold his own as he did first and second-up last campaign," said Gleeson, referring to close-up defeats in the G1 Turnbull Stakes (2000m) and Caulfield Cup (2400m) before winning the Cup.

Vow And Declare

Trainer D.T.O'Brien
Age 4YO
Sex Gelding
Colour Chestnut
Prize Money $5,722,690
Last 5 -421-
Career 13-4-3-2
POS Jockey Track Date DIST Race WGT MRG Odds