MELBOURNE, Nov 7, (AFP): Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien edged his famous father Aidan to land the Melbourne Cup as Rekindling led an all-Irish sweep of the placings after a close finish on Tuesday.
Aidan O’Brien has trained a world-record 27 Group 1 wins this year but his 24-year-old son beat him to a debut victory in the Aus$6 million (US$4.6 million) race when Rekindling wore down Johannes Vermeer to snatch it by half-a-length.
The Willie Mullins-trained Max Dynamite, who finished second in 2015, completed an all-Irish one-two-three when he finished three lengths behind in the famous 3,200-metre (2 mile) handicap at Flemington.
Rekindling gave his Australian owner Lloyd Williams his sixth success in the Melbourne Cup and was jockey Corey Brown’s second win in the race.
“I can’t believe it. I am thankful to Lloyd who suggested I bring him down and he would have a good chance in the race,” Joseph O’Brien said.
“His preparation went really good. Corey gave him an unbelievable ride. Everyone, the lads at home and the lads here, have done an unbelievable job.”
In the race’s 157th edition, Rekindling becomes the third Irish-trained stayer to win following Vintage Crop (1993) and Media Puzzle (2003), and the sixth overseas winner overall.
Property developer Williams also owns runner-up Johannes Vermeer.
“An absolute dream. I am so thrilled,” Williams said.
“Just to do it with this 24-year-old (trainer Joseph O’Brien). He has been taking the world on. I thought that this horse had some chance.”
Brown was dumbfounded after his second win in Melbourne following his ride on Shocking in 2009.
“It is a dream to even ride in the race,” the jockey said. “To come out and win it again, I’m lost for words.
“I chased the ride about six weeks ago and with a light weight (thinking I was) a big chance to get on him.”
Rekindling was the first three-year-old to win the Melbourne Cup since Skipton in 1941.
Johannes Vermeer, ridden by Ben Melham, looked the likely winner halfway down the long Flemington track before Rekindling, with a three-kilogram weight advantage, reeled him in.
Rekindling came to Australia with impressive form. Three starts ago he won the Curragh Cup before he ran second to staying star Order Of St George, also at the Curragh.
He was a close-up fourth at his last start in the English St Leger and he came into the Melbourne Cup weighted at just 51.5 kilograms.
Big Duke was fourth ahead of the Scottish-trained Nakeeta, with another Irish runner, Thomas Hobson, sixth.
The well-backed English stayer Marmelo led into the home straight but fell off to ninth, while the Godolphin stable’s Melbourne Cup drought continued with topweight Hartnell finishing a fading 20th in the 23-strong field.
Last year’s winner Almandin, another of Williams’s six runners, finished 12th with Italian jockey Frankie Dettori still without a win in his 16th ride in the Melbourne Cup.