Melbourne Cup: Twilight Payment leads Irish one-two but tragedy strikes Anthony Van Dyck

By Nicholas Godfrey

So you know Twilight Payment held on from Tiger Moth in an Irish one-two for trainer Joseph O’Brien and his father Aidan in the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington on Tuesday. You’ve probably seen the race – but here’s some other stuff you might like to know …

What’s going on?

Anthony Van Dyck suffers fatal injury

A 1-2-3 for Europe in Australia’s greatest race was overshadowed by the death of last year’s Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck, who broke down on the home turn.

Jockey Hugh Bowman dismounted immediately but the Ballydoyle four-year-old had to be put down, as Jamie Stier, Racing Victoria’s executive general manager of integrity services, explained.

“The horse received immediate veterinary care, however he was unable to be saved due to the nature of the injury sustained,” he said in a statement.

O’Brien also lost Cliffs Of Moher, who raced as Thecliffsofmoher, in the 2018 Melbourne Cup. According to Racing Victoria, there have been five fatalities as a result of “catastrophic limb injuries” in the race in the last 40 years.

Read the Racing Victoria statement

Twilight Payment owner expresses sympathies

The Lloyd Williams team were quick to express sympathies towards their Coolmore counterparts following the death of Anthony Van Dyck.

“I just feel terrible for them,” said Williams’s son Nick. “It’s a shocking thing to happen at anytime. They put in a lot of money into our sport. They’re great sportsmen. They go to every dance, take their best horses everywhere in the world. They’ve had this bad luck with such a great horse.”

Horse Racing Twilight Payment
Twilight Payment (Jye McNeil) wins the Lexus Melbourne Cup. Photo: Racing and Sports/Racing Images

Big whip penalty for Tiger Moth jockey Kerrin McEvoy

Kerrin McEvoy was fined A$50,000 (£27,400) and suspended for 13 meetings for breaching the whip rules on runner-up Tiger Moth, beaten a half-length by Twilight Payment.

McEvoy’s share of second-place prize-money is A$55,000 and the fine was said to be “one of the most significant in Australian racing history” by AAP Racing, matching a similar size of financial penalty given to Greg Hall for improper riding after his win in the 1996 Golden Slipper.

Under Australian racing rules, jockeys are allowed to hit their mounts no more than five times before the 100-metre mark but stewards found that McEvoy hit Tiger Moth 13 times before then, and 21 times overall. The three-time Melbourne Cup-winning rider pleaded guilty and will take his medicine.

Eighth victory for Europe – and a fourth for Ireland

Twilight Payment’s half-length victory over Irish compatriot Tiger Moth means European stables have now won Australia’s most celebrated race eight times since Vintage Crop started the ball rolling in 1993.

The previous seven European-trained winners were Vintage Crop (1993), Media Puzzle (2002), Americain (2010), Dunaden (2011), Protectionist (2014), Rekindling (2017) and Cross Counter (2018). In addition, Delta Blues led home a one-two for Japan in 2006.

With British-trained Prince Of Arran finishing third, this is the third time European-trained horses have filled the first three places after 2017 and 2018.

Ireland now has four Cup winners, two each for Dermot Weld and Joseph O’Brien, who also saddled Rekindling in 2017 for Twilight Payment’s owners.

Son beats father in repeat of Rekindling result

While Aidan O’Brien is still awaiting his first Melbourne Cup victory, he has now twice finished runner-up to horses trained by his son Joseph as the 2020 result mirrored three years ago, when Rekindling beat Johannes Vermeer.

“We both realise how hard it is to win on the world stage in these big races, but I am very lucky that I have been able to win a couple of big races,” said Joseph, speaking on Sky Sports Racing.

“Dad has been very lucky, he has won a lot of big races, I’d be delighted for him if he had won, and I’m sure he is for us having won. We do our best on the track and what happens out there happens.”

Part-owner Nick Williams paid tribute to the 27-year-old trainer, saying: “He’s an amazing young man. He’s got the world at his feet. If he was in a yearling sale he’d top the sale with his pedigree. They’re a wonderful family. They just live and breath horse racing.”

Twilight Payment: the Jim Bolger connection

A seven-year-old gelded son of Teofilo, Twilight Payment was bred and formerly trained by Jim Bolger, for whom he won the G2 Curragh Cup in June 2019 before joining Joseph O’Brien’s string after being purchased by Lloyd Williams with the Melbourne Cup in mind.

Trained by Bolger, he carried the Godolphin silks until the start of his six-year-old campaign.

Nick Williams: ‘We’ll give it a fair hammering tonight’

Twilight Payment is a seventh Melbourne Cup winner for 80-year-old business magnate Lloyd Williams, the property developer who founded the Crown Casino complex in Melbourne.

One of Australia’s largest owners, Williams’s previous six Cup winners are Just A Dash (1981), What A Nuisance (1985), Efficient (2007), Green Moon (2012), Almandin (2016) and Rekindling (2017). Nobody else has won more than four.

Williams’s business interests are now managed by his son Nick, who is a part-owner of Twilght Payment. Owing to Covid-19 restrictions at Flemington, he watched the race at the Prince of Wales Hotel in St KIlda.

“It’s a pity we couldn’t all be on course today,” he said. “The VRC have done a great job in trying to make the experience as good as they can. It’s been a challenging year for everyone around the world and we’ve just got to do the best of it.

“We’re fortunate we’re here at Melbourne’s best pub – and I reckon we’ll give it a fair hammering tonight.”

Rookie jockey Jye McNeil earns plaudits

Having his first ride in the Melbourne Cup, 25-year-old jockey Jye McNeil took the bull by the horns with his front-running effort on Twilight Payment, who made virtually all after taking the lead first time around in front of the stands. 

Such tactics are rarely popular in Australia, where getting cover in behind is usually the name of the game over a trip. “He rode the horse exactly how Joseph had been telling him over the last two or three nights to ride him in their long conversations,” said part-owner owner Nick Williams.

“We were a bit worried about Jye doing that because if you don’t win when you ride a horse like that, people aren’t exactly praising you for it. You’ve got to get it right in that situation.”

‘Incredible’ Prince Of Arran set to return in 2021

Melbourne Cup stalwart Prince Of Arran claimed an unlucky third, beaten only three-quarters of a length and charging home best of all after being denied a run early in the straight. The seven-year-old has now been placed in the last three Cups, having been third to Cross Counter in 2018 and second last year to Vow And Declare.

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“Hopefully we’ll be back again next year,” said Newmarket trainer Charlie Fellowes.  “He was behind a wall of horses at the wrong time and got out a bit too late. He flew. He’s run a massive race again. He is an incredible horse.”

Shall we talk about it?

Joseph O’Brien (Twilight Payment’s trainer): “Very special. Obviously it’s quite different and not what we would have liked – we would have loved to have been there – but it’s still incredibly special.
“Jye gave the horse an incredible ride and all credit has to go to Lloyd and Nick Williams. They really thought this horse had a big chance in the race this year.
“Mark Power, Sean Corbey and my team of lads that have been down in Melbourne for the last number of weeks have done an incredible job. Not only him but all the horses there and having them in fantastic condition. All credit has to go to them.
“There was a time when we weren’t sure whether we were going to be able to have runners in the race this year. Very special that we were able to compete in the race. All credit and a huge thanks to all the people behind the scenes making that happen and making it possible.”

Jye McNeill (Twilight Payment’s jockey):  “There’s too many emotions, it’s a very big moment. I’m not worried about the grandstands at all, just to be able get the opportunity from the Williams family  and from Joseph O’Brien to partner Twilight Payment, it’s very overwhelming.
“It was always the plan to be forward, obviously with where he was in the market I wasn’t feeling a lot of pressure, but when you have got to go forward like that there is some pressure to get it right. Thankfully it all came together.
“I was trying to use my voice to encourage him as much as possible. It was a matter of hanging on and he was very tough.”

Kerrin McEvoy (Tiger Moth’s jockey): “We were able to get across into a nice spot. We dropped in and got a nice lead and he travelled really well. The winner kept running, I just had to pick up to get into the race, which he did, but the winner was just a bit strong today. It was a great run for a young horse having only his fifth start in a race. He’s run really well.”

Charlie Fellowes (Prince Of Arran’s trainer): “You can’t be gutted running third in the Melbourne Cup. I’m not gutted at all. I’m incredibly proud of him. I felt we got our run stopped at a really bad point in the race and the way he was running home at the end, it wouldn’t have had to be too much further and we would have given Twilight Payment something to think about.
“It’s a remarkable performance from Joseph. He’d better not make a habit of this because other people want to win it as well. Hopefully we’ll be back again next year.”

Jamie Kah (Prince Of Arran’s jockey): “He was super unlucky. He really deserves it. He just had no luck on the turn.”

Glen Boss (Sir Dragonet’s jockey): “Just didn’t step. He just missed it a length which put me at a disadvantage. Ideally I would have liked to have been two or three pairs closer. There’ll be people that will say that he didn’t run the trip but unfortunately, at the 1,200 (metre mark), when I’m 12 lengths away, I had to do a lot of work just to get myself into a winning position. Even if I just came through on the fence, I’m still using carrots up to get to that point. But he ran very well.”

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• Visit the Racing Victoria website and the Flemington website

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