07 November 2017

Irish racing received one of its greatest ever endorsements overnight in the Emirates Melbourne Cup with an extraordinary trifecta.

A range of stories to match the best from Australia’s greatest race emerged as the lightly weighted three-year-old, REKINDLING, wore down Johannes Vermeer (IRE) with a short break back to Max Dynamite in third.

Trainer Joseph O’Brien defeating his record-breaking father, Aidan, inside the final 100 metres of the Flemington homestretch will rank as one of the most memorable subplots from a remarkable race. To have one of the world’s most competitive and richest events boiled down to a family affair in a different hemisphere is a total one-off and may never happen again.

The ability of the O’Brien family to break new ground is almost taken for granted these days; Joseph becoming the youngest trainer to win the Cup at the age of 24 is the latest chapter of their unique trailblazing.    

Credit must also go to owner Lloyd Williams who owned both O’Brien-trained horses and who would have been instrumental in plotting the first three-year-old to win the Cup since 1941.

REKINDLING extends the legacy of the late High Chaparral (IRE) who was also responsible for the Victoria Derby winner Ace High last Saturday. The winner is a full brother to Golden Sword whom O’Brien senior trained to finish second in the Irish Derby of 2009.        

But spare a thought for those vanquished: Johannes Vermeer (IRE), placing for the third time in a Group 1 since decamping to Australia – runner-up in the Group 1 Ladbrokes Stakes, third in the Caulfield Cup and now second in the biggest of them all Down Under. He graduated from the Goffs Orby Sale for €300,000 in 2014.  

And for Max Dynamite, a horse who was so unlucky to be beaten by 100-1 bolter Prince Of Penzance in 2015, returned after a lengthy spell on the sidelines and gave everything to finish third for trainer Willie Mullins whose quest for a Cup win continues.    

In fact, with a little more luck here and there, we would be looking at a third consecutive Irish-trained winner of the Cup after Heartbreak City was pipped on the line last year. Instead, it is our third winner in total after Dermot Weld’s pioneering exploits courtesy of Vintage Crop in 1993 and Media Puzzle in 2002.  

Of the six Irish-trained runners in the field, four finished in the top six with Thomas Hobson, taken back from his wide draw, ran past 18 rivals in the straight.

But the day belongs to Ireland and mostly to Joseph O’Brien.

As owner Williams exulted post-race: “He will be one of the leading trainers in the world. He has a better pedigree than Galileo! He is the next Aidan O’Brien.”  


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