Especially when Twilight Payment won the 2020 Melbourne Cup after running in the race in 2019 finishing 7th behind the winner that year, Vow and Declare for the Danny O’Brien stable.
Who Were the Main Chance for the 2020 Melbourne Cup
In 2020 there were several key challengers to win the Melbourne Cup and a case could have in fact been made that it was one of the most open cups in recent times with heavily back Japanese horses swaying the betting in previous years.
It’s ironic in a way that the favourite in betting Surprise Baby was favourite for the race because of the run he had in the 2019 edition of the Melbourne Cup. The Paul Preusker trained runner came flying late in that race and with little change in weight was heavily tipped to win the following year.
Closely behind Surprise Baby in the betting was Irish Raider Tiger Moth representing the famous Aiden O’Brien stable.
Tiger Moth was second favourite for the Melbourne Cup in 2020 and arrived under a cloud of uncertainty having only had 4 previous race starts. In recent years there had been a trend of lightly races and lightly weighted horses like Cross Counter and Rekindling travelling down under and winning. Tiger Moth fitted that mould.
The old warhorse and fast becoming a fans favourite Prince Of Arran was back once again for another go at the Melbourne Cup and after placing all previous attempts, trainer Charlie Fellowes had the third favourite ticking along nicely for the race that stops a nation.
Other notable entrants to the race included that of Chris Waller trained Verry Elleegant, who was coming into the race off the back of three Group 1 victories, and the recently relocated Sir Dragonet who had won the Cox Plate only a few days prior.
The betting in the market certainly favoured the top 5 in betting with little consideration for the 2019 seventh placed finisher, Twilight Payment at $26 at the jump.
How did the 2020 Melbourne Cup Unfold
Once the barrier stalls had crash open in the straight six at Flemington internationals Anthony Van Dyck, Master of Reality and Twilight Payment jostled for position against the home contingent of Finche and the 2019 winner Vow and Declare.
When going past the finish line and clock tower for the first time it would be Twilight Payment for Lloyd Williams and the Aiden O’Brien trained Tiger Moth who would settle one and two with Mick Price and Michael Kent jrs Oceanex in third.
From then on there was little change in the order with Twilight Payment bowling along in front. Tiger Moth stuck to the task at hand well settling in second whilst the likes of Verry Elleegant and Prince Of Arran settled worse than midfield when coming out of the first turn.
At 1400m the first changes came in the race. Twilight Payment for Joey O’Brien continued to dictate the running out in front however the Chris Waller trained Finche grew ever closer and looked to pressure the international galloper.
With Finche looking to tackle Twilight Payment for the lead, jockey Jye McNeil cranked through the gears and really begin to string the Melbourne Cup field out. What had been a continuous 2 length lead turned quickly into a six length lead from him and Finche to the chasing pack.
Around the bend however class began to show and Twilight Payment continued to find while the Waller runner in second came off the bridle and began to struggle. With the rest of the Melbourne Cup field playing catch up the Irish horse set sail for home.
At the 300m mark Twilight Payment was still three lengths clear of the chasing pack and still finding. The tension heightened as the crowd watched as one by one horses fell back in the pack when running out of steam.
A late charge came from Tiger Moth but McNeil continued to find and held him comfortably. The only danger, extremely late was that of Prince Of Arran who was absolutely flying late but yet again defeated on the first Tuesday of November and went home with yet another minor placing.
Twilight Payment led from start to finish that day demonstrating excellent front running skills and the depth of his tank when leading from pretty much post to post to win the world’s richest handicap race.
What did we Learn From the 2020 Melbourne Cup
Well it’s a valid question isn’t it? Do we look now at the 2020 Melbourne Cup and try and identify chances for the 2021 Melbourne Cup?
The answer is almost certainly yes! Obviously the changes in travel restrictions make it more difficult for the usual internationals to attend however there are still a strong number of horses from last year's race that deserve consideration.
Case and point is Twilight Payment. A horse that finished 7th in the Melbourne Cup in 2019 came back to win it the following year and now looks to have strong claims to winning the race in 2021.
He travels back down under having run second in the Irish St Leger and winning the St Leger Trial at Group 3 on route to Melbourne. When you look on paper it stacks up very evenly year on year.
Of the other chances, she may not have been tearing up trees recently but you can’t ignore Verry Elleegant. Winner of three Group 1s last spring as well as running 2nd to Addeybb in the Queen Elizabeth in the Autumn she looks to be on route for the Cox Plate but should she run in the cup, always has a chance.
Finally we can’t forget Sir Dragonet who reclaimed form last month going close in a Caulfield Group 1 and won the Group 1 Tancred Stakes in the Autumn.
One thing is for sure though, with the recent news that fans will be allowed to attend at Racing HQ, the 2021 Melbourne Cup is set to be live, loud and full of entertainment.