It was an Irish clean sweep of the 2017 Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) when Joseph O’Brien with Rekindling (GB) and Corey Brown defeated his father Aidan’s Johannes Vermeer (IRE) and Ben Melham with Willie Mullins and Max Dynamite (FR) under Zac Purton third.
The win was the second in succession for Lloyd Williams and associates after Almandin (GER), 12th this year, won the Cup last year, the first for O’Brien aged 24 in his first year of training and who arrived in Melbourne only on Monday and the second for Brown after his 2009 win on Shocking. It was the sixth Melbourne Cup victory for Williams.
The race began in earnest as the field headed around the bottom turn after Cismontane and apprentice Beau Mertens had taken the field into and down the back straight.
Max Dynamite, with 54.0kg, under Zac Purton had settled on the rails in seventh with Johannes Vermer, with 54.5kg, and Melham directly ahead and Rekindling, with 51.5kg, and Brown tracking the two of them. They stayed in that line of order down the back and into the final turn.
There Melham started to peel Johannes Vermer wide and Brown followed with Rekindling. Inside Purton went through the tiring front runners and then it was the three of them out in front as the others fell away.
Melham had tried to not reach the front too soon, but with 350m to run he sent Johannes Vermeer out to lead and it was the three of them left to decide the finish.
Max Dynamite and Purton were on the rails with Johannes Vermer outside and ahead. Then Rekindling with his 3kg advantage started to gain, racing the widest of the three. Purton could not extract any more traction from Max Dynamite, second two years ago, but the two O’Brien runners kept at each other until finally with 25m to run Rekindling went past for the win.
Rekindling finished a long neck ahead of Johannes Vermeer (Galileo) with 2 1/2L to Max Dynamite (Great Journey). A further 2 3/4L away Big Duke was fourth and then came Nakeeta, Thomas Hobson, Tiberian, Liberan, the $7.10 favourite Marmelo and Wicklow Brave to round out the first ten.
The time was 3.21.19 on the Good 3 track with the final 600m in36.33. Rekindling paid $15.00 on fixed odds and $16.30 on the NSW tote.
There were supporters of Rekindling with some of the multiple wagers to succeed including a $227 Treble at $312.80 [to collect $71,005.60] on Valentino Rossa (Goulburn Race 3 on November 5) | Ruthless Agent (Goulburn Race 6 on November 5) | Rekindling, a $200 Double at $315 [to collect $63,000] on Vengeur Masque (Geelong Cup on October 25) | Rekindling and a $100 Treble @ $1292 [to collect $129,200] on Valentino Rossa (Goulburn Race 3 on November 5) | Doukhan (Randwick Race 4 Today) | Rekindling.
“I can’t quite believe it yet. I just so thankful to Lloyd (Williams) and Nick (Williams), they suggested bringing him down and that he would have a good chance in the race,” said Joseph O'Brien.
“His prep went really good, Corey gave him an unbelievable ride and I am just so delighted for all the team and the lads at home. The lads that have been with him out here have done a tremendous job. I cannot quite believe it. This is unbelievable, it hasn’t sunk in to be honest.”
“He had a very light weight and like I said, Corey gave him a great ride, we had a lovely draw and it is not often that in a big race the whole run went so well for him.
“I am over the moon. I spoke to him (his father), he is delighted, it is unbelievable,” he said.
"To Joseph O'Brien, the O'Brien team, Team Williams, I cannot believe it. I have been back from overseas for about nine months, slowly but surely getting back to where I was, but I cannot believe it,” said Brown who returned from Kranji to ride again in Australia.
"I have been getting plenty of opportunities in big races. But I just want to ride winners mid-week, and haven't been getting the options. But I would be happy with the big ones like this every year.
"Honestly it is so special, I have got my family down here with me, the girls, they're old enough to come to the races now and enjoy it. I am lost for words, I cannot believe I did it again," he said.
“He (Aidan O’Brien) would be so excited about the fact he has run second but he’s 24-year-old son has won the race," said Lloyd Williams.
“We bought him as a yearling and when Joseph got his license we gave the horse to Joseph. It is an absolutely a dream. I am so thrilled.”
“I am terribly excited, I can’t put it into words to be perfectly honest. Just to do it with this 24-year-old. I thought this horse had some chance because his run in the (English St) Leger was good and I have been saying to people the three-year-old form over there is very good.
“I wanted somebody who could ride the weight and I wanted an experienced rider. He (Brown) is a Sydney Cup winner, he is a Melbourne Cup winner, I wanted that sort of rider,” he said.
Rekindling was another major Flemington victory in four days for the late sire High Chaparral after Ace High’s Victoria Derby win on Saturday. The four-year-old entire to Southern Hemisphere time is out of the Salse mare Sitara and this was his fourth win from ten starts.
He came into the race after a fourth in the Group 1 English St Leger over 2921m at Doncaster on September 16th. He ran in the Group 1 English Derby at Epsom Downs in June finishing 16th, but he then he won the Group 2 Curragh Cup over 2816m at the Curragh in July. A second in the Group 3 Irish St Leger Trial over 2816m followed.
Rekindling’s earnings have soared with $3.6 million from Tuesday’s victory adding to his previous earnings of $273,308. The ownership group includes Mr N C Williams, Mr L J Williams, Mrs S J Williams, Mr J A Ingham, Mr B N Singer, Mr A L Green, Mrs B A Green, Bulla Thoroughbreds Pty Ltd, Mr D A Heffernan, Mr M S Gudinski, Mr V Sammartino, Mr P Mehrten and Mr G T Ryan.