Joseph O’Brien upstaged father Aidan for a second Melbourne Cup win in a race yet again marred by tragedy.
The 27-year-old trained Twilight Payment to victory in Australia’s biggest race – following on from a 2017 success with Rekindling –but Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck was euthanised after breaking a leg.
It was the seventh death in the race since 2013 and led to condemnation from animal welfare groups.
Jockey Jye McNeil, who boldly took Twilight Payment to the front at the outset, was never bettered in holding off the challenge of Tiger Moth, trained by his father, and a fast-finishing Prince of Arran.
Aftewards, O’Brien Jr said: “The horse has got incredible heart, Jye gave him a fantastic ride and he has a huge will to win. He just kept on fighting all the way to the line.
“I am very lucky that I have been able to win a couple of big races. Dad has been very lucky, he has won a lot of big races. I’d be delighted for him if he had won and I’m sure he is for me having won.
“We do our best on the track and, whatever happens out there, happens.”
For McNeil, it was a timely win just three months after becoming a father for the first time to son Oakleigh with partner Jess Payne.
“I’m hoping she was cheering,” he said. “I’m tipping Oakleigh was also awake. Talking about them really makes me emotional and, yeah, I’m sure they’re very happy.”
Despite the celebrations for McNeil, O’Brien and owner Lloyd Williams, his seventh win in ‘the race that stops a nation’, there were yet more question marks for officials at Flemington after the latest tragedy.
Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick said: “Melbourne Cup is beginning to feel like Groundhog Day. No animal deserves to die or be injured for gambling profit.”
The RSPCA, meanwhile, called for a wider review into the horse racing industry.
The charity said in a statement: “Whenever there is an adverse outcome for an animal, our expectation is that the industry will do a comprehensive review to identify ways to improve in an effort to avoid unnecessary injury or trauma in the future.”