Racing / Melbourne Cup: Crop crosses the Australian frontier: Weld reaps reward for boldly going where none has ventured before

THE FINAL frontier was breached here yesterday when Ireland's Vintage Crop won the 133rd Melbourne Cup and ushered in a new era of racing as a global sport.

Victory for the gelding, who was joined by Drum Taps in the first challenge by European-trained horsesfor the Cup, may be the start of a stampede from the Northern Hemisphere to Victoria each autumn. And now that evidence has arrived that the racing world's longest journey can be overcome, Australian trainers are already planning assaults on Europe.

'International racing is the future of the sport, and that's what stimulated me to come here,' Dermot Weld, the winning trainer, said. 'This is probably the furthest anyone has brought a racehorse to win a race, and I'm sure the Melbourne Cup will now develop into the top international two-mile race in the world.

'In turn, I think we'll soon be seeing Australian horses coming to Europe to have a go at races like the King George (VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes) and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.'

Such momentous happenings seemed some distance away when Melbourne awoke yesterday to find the city shrouded in mist and heavy cloud. Two inches of rain had fallen overnight, causing flooding and travel chaos.

This meant the attendance at Flemington racecourse was 40,000 down on the anticipated 100,000, but there was still enough of the atmosphere that makes the Cup one of the world's great racing spectacles. The crowd, as usual, turned up in fancy dress of both kinds, morning suits (some covered incongruously in bin-liners) mixing with men wearing traffic-cone hats and witches on the way home from Hallowe'en.

Wherever these punters turned there was a tip available, but the most potent piece of information came from the Weld camp, who reported that the previously enfeebled Vintage Crop had recovered from his journey to the Antipodes and was now back in the same form as when winning the Irish St Leger seven weeks ago.

The chestnut would need fortitude as well as class, however, if he was to make this mission successful. As Drum Taps led the field into the tiny parade ring to great applause, it was clear that the test was as much in the preliminaries as the race itself.

The saddling area was a crucible as well-oiled spectators leaned over the rails, the bagpipe music of the Rats of Tobruk Memorial Pipes and Drums competed for air space and the 24 runners circled round among attendant connections and camera crews.

Vintage Crop was a leaner machine than normal, but there was a keenness of eye and spring of hoof to suggest all was well. 'When I saw him in the ring, I thought he was a little bit light, but I knew he'd started to perk up in the last two or three days,' Michael Kinane, the winning jockey, reported.

After the pre-race rendition of 'Waltzing Matilda', it was clear that Kinane and Lanfranco Dettori, aboard Drum Taps, had more than waltzing in mind. Both rushed their mounts to leading positions, the Irishman having to be particularly vigorous to place his partner among the challengers.

'I just jumped off a little flat-footed and it took me a while to work myself into a decent position,' he said. 'We were running tight for most of the way and my fellow kept backing out of there a bit, but I just kept him in there.'

Kinane's plan was to put his horse into the hoofprints left by Drum Taps, who has been a regular winner this week in Melbourne's series of 'Phantom Calls', in which well-known broadcasters deliver a commentary version of how they think the race will transpire.

Before the entrance to the straight, however, it was clear that reality was proving a lot more difficult for Drum Taps, who plugged on into ninth. 'I had a good position, but at 800 metres I wasn't very happy and coming to the straight I just stayed on at one pace,' Dettori said. 'He's run a good race, but I think that it is very difficult to win with top weight.'

The burden on Kinane, though, appeared to be diminishing as Vintage Crop found his feet and started to carve through the field. 'Once I got the room to go inside Drum Taps I knew I had loads of horse left,' he said. 'I was always going to win once I got to work on him early in the straight. He really quickened and flew home to the line.' In the slipstream of the winner, who paid 15.8-1 on the Tote, were the rank outsiders Te Akau Nick and Mercator.

The interviewers also then flew in for Kinane, the first being an outrider who collected the winning team just after they had come to a halt, and the 34-year-old was happy to tell everyone that this experience compared with his Derby victory on Commander In Chief earlier this year. 'This is as good a feeling as an Epsom Derby winner,' he said. 'It's historic. To do the two in the same year is unreal. It's something that dreams are made of.'

Dermot Weld was similarly moved and broke, strangely, into a rendition from a work by the Australian poet, A B 'Banjo' Paterson. The man from The Curragh revealed he had wanted to win the Cup since reading the author's 'The Man From Snowy River'.

'I have dreamed about winning this race for a number of years now,' he said. 'And, since I read that poem, Australia has always been in my heart.'

There was also a place in there for vindication, as at least one leading local trainer has said this week that a prospective Melbourne Cup winner must run during the previous weekend's series of trial races. 'Every horse is different and everyone has their own way of training horses,' Weld said. 'But I personally would not be in favour of running on a Saturday to win on a Tuesday.

'We train our horses differently and they are more relaxed. We tend to ride them from off the pace and they come home well and that might be why I'm just short of my 2,000th winner.'

Vintage Crop, who won Adollars 1.3m (pounds 606,000) for this victory may now be prepared for a National Hunt season and has been made 4-1 favourite by Ladbrokes for the Champion Hurdle; Coral quote him at 10-1. 'We'll look at the Champion (a race sponsored by his owner, Michael Smurfit) as a possibility for him and if we decide to do that he'd have one run, in the Irish Champion Hurdle, before Cheltenham. He jumps hurdles very well.'

The horse crossed a far more important barrier, though, yesterday, to confirm Weld, who has now saddled major winners on four continents, as the world's most skilled trainer at transporting racehorses. 'This has got to rate right up there with what I've done before,' he said. 'Some people may say it's my greatest achievement.'

MELBOURNE CUP

1. VINTAGE CROP chestnut gelding Rousillon - Overplay. . . . . M Kinane

2. Te Akau. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nick R Vance

3. Mercator. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C Johnson

4. Great Vintage. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . S King

Also ran: Frontier Boy (5th), Tennessee Jack (6th), Maraakiz (7th), The Phantom (8th), Drum Taps (9th), Castletown (10th), Azzaam, Cavallieri, Fraar, Our Pompeii, Subzero, Young Pirate, Ultimate Aim, Field Officer, Dancing Lord, Slight Chance, Air Seattle, Silk Ali, Diamond Bases, Our Tristalight.

24 ran. 3, hd. (Trained by D Weld, in Ireland, for M Smurfit). Tote: win 16.80; places 5.50 14.90 30.70.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map