January 20, 2022

Vow and Declare wins tight photo in Melbourne Cup

Vow and Declare wins the Melbourne Cup 2019
Courtesy of Sky Racing World

In a dramatic drive to the finish line that saw four runners cross the wire a neck apart, Vow and Declare snatched a thrilling victory for the home team in the November 5 Melbourne Cup (G1) at Flemington in Australia.

Not since Shocking in 2009 had an Australian-bred claimed victory in “The Race That Stops a Nation,” but Vow and Declare was resilient in out-battling a bevy of international challengers in the 3,200-meter test of speed and stamina.

With veteran jockey Craig Williams in the saddle for trainer Danny O’Brien, Vow and Declare was always prominent while facing a full field of 23 rivals. Indeed, after breaking alertly from post 21, the son of Declaration of War managed to clear the field and briefly set the pace before backing off to save ground along the rail, just behind Twilight Payment and Master of Reality. Race favorite Mer De Glace and defending winner Cross Counter were content to settle in mid-pack.

As the field turned for home, Twilight Payment drifted off the fence and allowed Vow and Declare to re-rally along the rail. Master of Reality still clung to a tenacious advantage under acclaimed jockey Frankie Dettori, but the Irish longshot was weaving around under pressure and soon drifted inward, putting the rallying Il Paradiso in tight quarters while Prince of Arran charged furiously on the far outside.

These four runners flew to the finish line together, and while Master of Reality held the lead close to home, his brush with Il Paradiso dampened his momentum just enough to change the outcome. In the final strides, Vow and Declare tenaciously stuck his head in front and crossed the wire victorious in 3:24.76.

Master of Reality edged Prince of Arran by a nose for second place, but was subsequently disqualified and placed fourth for interfering with Il Paradiso. Surprise Baby and Mer De Glace came charging late to round out the top six, while Cross Counter flattened out to finish eighth.

Produced from the Testa Rossa mare Geblitzt, Vow and Declare was winning for the fourth time in 13 starts. Previously a Group 3 winner over 3,000 meters, the four-year-old gelding had placed twice at the Group 1 level, most notably finishing second behind Mer De Glace in the October 19 Caulfield Cup.

Considering his young age, improving form, and obvious affinity for long-distance racing, Vow and Declare is expected to seek a defense of his Melbourne Cup title in 2020.