Nick Williams and Sean Corby with Twilight Payment

Nick Williams and strapper Sean Corby with Twilight Payment on Wednesday (Image: Racing Photos)

Williams praises McNeil magic

Nick Williams lauded Jye McNeil as 'an absolute top-liner' after his perfectly timed ride aboard Twilight Payment secured victory in Tuesday's $8 million Lexus Melbourne Cup (3200m).

The 25-year-old hoop was one of several having their first ride in this year's Lexus Melbourne Cup and his debut appearance will forever be remembered for his courageous front-running ride, which showcased Twilight Payment's superior stamina.

"Joseph (O'Brien) and Jye (McNeil) had spoken about the tactics three or four times over the last four or five days and I think they got it right," Williams said from Werribee Racecourse on Wednesday morning.

"I couldn't be happier during the race, it probably went as smoothly knowing the plan for that horse (Twilight Payment) as any Lexus Melbourne Cup we've had anything to do with.

"It takes a bit of luck out of it up the front, you're not going to strike bad luck unless the jockey gets the pace right and the horse was good enough to take him there.

"If it goes wrong there would have been a lot of people saying, 'What was he doing'?

"It took a lot of courage for Jye to follow through on those instructions, he did a great job." 

Williams and the wider Twilight Payment ownership group watched the race, and celebrated the result, from a bar in St Kilda while his father Lloyd, who has now owned seven Melbourne Cup winners, enjoyed the win from his residence on the Mornington Peninsula.

"I think we were just lucky the race was this week and not three weeks ago or else we'd all have to be sitting at home and watching it in our loungerooms," Nick Williams said.

"But we were able to get together as an ownership group and celebrate.

"It was such an exciting day obviously, with the challenging year that everybody has had, and for this horse to come out and do what he did yesterday it was a real highlight."

Twilight Payment has won three of six starts this year, with his other successes having come in the G3 Vintage Crop and G2 Curragh Cup over 2816 metres at the Curragh. He is now likely to be spelled as plans are created for next year, which may include a possible Cup defence.