The Australian bred, trained and owned Vow And Declare was carrying the nation’s hopes against a slew of foreign contenders.
In a driving finish, Vow And Declare toughed it out and fought back bravely to head off the challenge of the Lloyd Williams-owned Master Of Reality, with Prince Of Arran, trained by Charlie Fellowes at Newmarket in England and ridden by Kiwi Michael Walker, third before the protest.
There was nothing in it as Williams thwarted – once again – the challenge of Dettori, the Italian superstar jockey who remains without a win in the Melbourne Cup.
Winning trainer O’Brien said: “it’s a special thing to happen. I really can’t believe it.
“I am incredibly pleased to have a horse good enough to be in it.
“The last 100 metres he would not give in, not give in, and now we have won a Melbourne Cup.”
Vow And Declare was a rare Australian winner of the country’s greatest race, having been born and bred here and done all his racing in this country.
Danny O’Brien paid tribute to Williams’ tactical acumen as he decided to take the horse forward and race prominently from early in the race.
“I left it up to Craig and ultimately it’s been a winning move.”
Williams told Channel 10: “the bit of bumping that endured late actually spurred him along. It’s such a special moment. I feel very honoured and privileged. I grew up and watched races, wrote stories, dreamt of these occasions. But I couldn’t do it without Vow And Declare.”
O’Brien had described the horse’s chances as “a bit of a David and Goliath” task.
Michael Lynch is The Age’s chief soccer reporter and also reports on motor sport and horseracing