Haky winning at Flemington (Image: Racing Photos)
Vow And Declare's return to a staying trip at the scene of his greatest triumph did not generate the result his followers were after, with the Lexus Melbourne Cup winner unplaced at Flemington on Saturday.
The Danny O'Brien-trained four-year-old could manage only fifth placing behind Haky in the William Newton VC Handicap (2600m).
Craig Williams was proactive early, settling on the fence just forward of midfield aboard the gelding, who was lumped with 61kg but met his rivals well under the quality handicap conditions of the race, but it was evident early in the straight that he was not travelling like a winner.
The $5.8 million earner, was beaten 4.1 lengths.
"There were no excuses at all, he had a perfect run," O'Brien said.
"Obviously he was disappointing. We'll just see how he pulls up and work where we go from here."
Williams said it was not the performance of the horse he rode on Lexus Melbourne Cup Day last year.
"He's run five lengths inferior to his best," the jockey said. "That's not the Vow And Declare we know."
WATCH: Haky's win
While O'Brien was left to consider what next for Vow And Declare, Archie Alexander is dreaming of spring glory after Haky's convincing win.
The six-year-old son of Muhtathir, progressed from his eye-catching fifth placing in the Easter Cup to run out a strong three-quarters-of-a-length winner over Sin To Win, with Good Idea 1.5 lengths back in third.
Alexander admitted he thought he was racing for second, but his confidence grew as the race unfolded.
"If you could design a race, it was perfect," he said. "The two horses (in front) were going a good gallop, we were behind them having a breather. It was just like a racecourse gallop, really.
"He was third in the Geelong Cup, I know in the Melbourne Cup winner was here, take nothing away him, but our horse is a good horse on his day and the race went well."
While he claimed the scalp of the Melbourne Cup winner, Alexander is not getting carried away with where Haky might fit in but is excited about seeing where he fits in this spring.
"We've got a lot of plans, but we'll just have to see," he said. "I think he can come back in the spring. I'm not saying that he's going to win a Melbourne Cup, but he could win a nice Geelong Cup, Bendigo, Ballarat Cup, maybe just a little bit below the Melbourne Cup but where he ran today, who knows?"