Verry Elleegant won the A$8 million ($6 million) Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday, storming home in the final straight to win by three-and-a-half lengths.
Pre-race favorite Incentivise ran second ahead of third-placed Spanish Mission in Australia’s “race that stops the nation.”
Jockey James McDonald was overwhelmed after his first Melbourne Cup win on the Chris Waller-trained mare, which was rated 14/1 by bookmakers.
“I love her to bits, she’s been so good to me,” he said.
“I can safely say she is a champion now.
“She was relaxed the whole way … I was blowing kisses to her all the way. I just can’t believe it.”
“I never thought I would win one (Melbourne Cup), I dreamed I’d win one, it’s so hard to win. Her fight and determination just takes her so far. I want to swear!”
Australian stayer Incentivise was a 3/1 favorite to claim the grueling two-mile handicap, having won its last nine starts and after blitzing the field in last month’s 2,400m Caulfield Cup, a traditional form guide for the Cup.
The Peter Moody-trained gelding held the lead as it rounded the final turn but Verry Elleegant burst into the front with 300m to the post and burned away from the field.
British stayer Spanish Mission was rated second favorite at 9/1.
Only two horses prepared outside Australia and New Zealand were among the 23 that ran at Flemington, where a COVID-capped crowd of 10,000 gathered on a hot, sunny day, a year after Twilight Payment won the race at a closed track.
Rank outsider Future Score, trained by Matt Cumani, was scratched in the morning after vets found lameness in his right foreleg.