A recap of 2020 Melbourne Cup day

Despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, that has wreaked havoc on 2020’s sporting calendar, the iconic Melbourne Cup still went ahead on November 3rd at Australia’s world-renowned Flemington Racecourse. It was the strangest of years at the Melbourne track, with no roaring crowd in attendance, due to Covid-19 restrictions, whilst those watching from home who backed the favourites in the betting exchange were left red-faced, as numerous outsiders stole the back page headlines.

With that in mind, read on as we take a look back at how the drama unfolded on Melbourne Cup day.

World Racing Desirable Stakes (Listed Race) (3yo Fillies) (Turf) 7f

It was a day of upsets, but No Restriction delivered the biggest shock in the meeting’s opening race, the listed World Racing Desirable Stakes. At 40/1, the Archie Alexander-trained three-year-old started the race largely under the radar – in fact he was the joint longest-priced horse along with Miss Conduct, who finished second last. However, jockey Declan Bates kicked the filly into action with 100 metres to go, and he sped into the lead, beating 15/1 shot Pride Of Jenni by a length, whilst Ripper Rita was just behind in third. It was a disappointing race from market leader Joviality, who finished third last.

“It is the biggest day of the year, I have got a ride in the big one and I have got a winner on the board earlier in the day. Everything is coming together nicely so hopefully we can have a better day later,” Bates said.

“Really pleased to win on her today. I was actually quite confident coming here today. I thought Flemington would suit. She was too good.”

Melbourne Cup (Group 1 Handicap) (3yo+) (Turf) 2m

It was a second Melbourne Cup victory for Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien, and a second shock winner of the day. 25/1 outsider Twilight Payment lead the historic race from start to finish, and held on at the end to beat Tiger Moth, who is trained by Joseph’s father Aidan, by a mere length-and-a-half. Whilst O’Brien was celebrating his second triumph in the £2.3m race, after Rekindling’s victory four years ago, it was a maiden victory for jockey Jye McNeil, who was also making his Melbourne Cup debut. Unfortunately, not every horse finished the race unscathed, with 2019 Epsom Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck needing to be euthanised after breaking his leg.

“The horse has got incredible heart. Jye gave him a fantastic ride and he has a huge will to win and he just kept on fighting all the way to the line,” the winning trainer said afterwards.

Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes (Group 3) (4yo+ Fillies and Mares) (Turf) 7f

Believe or not, Rich Hips was the shortest winner of the day at 20/1. The Trent Busuttin and Natalie Young-trained four-year-old came from nowhere as the finish line approached, storming over ahead of market favourites Lyre and Wild Vixen, who finished second and third respectively. The victory marked the fourth successive year that the blue and gold colours of the First Light Racing syndicate picked up a win at the festival.

“For sheer brilliance and occasion, I can’t think of a better win in our 10-year history,” Tim Wilson, a member of the winning syndicate, said.

“It looked hopeless at the furlong, but she’s run home 11 seconds flat (fastest of the day) and blown past a Group 1 winner on Melbourne Cup Day.”