Melbourne Cup 2020: Twilight Payment’s all-the-way win revives memories of Might And Power

Twilight Payment became the first all-the-way winner of the Melbourne Cup since Might And Power more than two decades ago when he led home an international trifecta in the great race on Tuesday.

In an exciting climax to what will be remembered as the “Covid Cup”, Irish stayer Twilight Payment maintained a brutal gallop for a famous win in front of Flemington’s cavernous, empty grandstands.

Jockey Jye McNeil was riding in the race that stops the nation for the first time and his daring catch-me-if-you-can tactics on Twilight Payment will go down in Melbourne Cup folklore just like Jim Cassidy’s memorable effort on Might And Power in 1997.

“I’m overwhelmed with emotion at the moment. It’s a miracle,’’ McNeil said. “It’s been a lifelong dream to get to this moment and to get this winner is very surreal.”

Twilight Payment held off Tiger Moth and Prince Of Arran in the Melbourne Cup. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Trainer Joseph O’Brien prepared his second Melbourne Cup winner in three years, again relegating his father, Aidan, into second placing with Tiger Moth.

For owner Lloyd Williams, it was a record seventh win a race that has become an obsession since he first won it with Just A Dash in 1981.

Twilight Payment ($26) held off the late surge of Tiger Moth ($6.50) to win by a long neck. He ran the Flemington 3200m in 3m 17.34s, the fourth fastest time in Cup history.

An unbelievable performance from Twilight Payment who has won the Lexus #MelbourneCup.

Jye McNeil is now a Cup winner, what a star. ⭐️ @FlemingtonVRC @RacingInsider pic.twitter.com/GMoXvNdRhG

The domination of northern hemisphere-trained stayers was complete with English stayer Prince Of Arran ($9.50) running his third successive minor placing in the Cup, charging home late to be beaten a half-length into third. In other news:

#Eight-year-old Twilight Payment joined Catalogue (1938) and Toryboy (1865) as the oldest winners of the Melbourne Cup.

#Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet was slow away and settled well back in the field before running on for sixth.

#Chris Waller had to wait another year to win his first Melbourne Cup with Verry Elleegant finishing seventh and Finche ninth.

#The huge betting plunge on Surprise Baby came unstuck when the $6 favourite ran only 13th.

#Last year’s Cup winner Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare ran only 18th.

Jye McNeil produced a bold frontrunning ride on Twilight Payment. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

There was a sad postscript to the Melbourne Cup with another of the Aidan O’Brien-trained stayers, Anthony Van Dyck, fracturing a fetlock and failing to finish. His injury was so severe veterinarians had no option but to have the stayer humanely euthanized.

Twilight Payment ran 11th in the Melbourne Cup last year when inconvenienced by the slow race tempo. O’Brien learned his lessons from that loss and instructed McNeil to make use of the gelding’s superior stamina and ensure this was a genuine staying contest.

“It was the plan to always be forward,’’ McNeil said. “I had to be positive but he was a little bit slow into gear.

“He jumped with them but he was a touch slow to really find his rhythm. I encouraged him to go forward and that was the plan and then he found just a lovely tempo. He got into a fantastic rhythm, breathing really well and then it was a matter of ‘amping’ the tempo up at the right stage.”

O’Brien wanted McNeil to have Twilight Payment “at the head of the field and really get them chasing because what he lacked in class he makes up for in his staying ability.’’

Jye McNeil fulfilled his dream by winning the Melbourne Cup at his first attempt with Twilight Payment. Payment: AFPSource:AFP

McNeil said he began to believe the Melbourne Cup was his when Twilight Payment was still well clear and full of running passing the clocktower about 180m from the finish.

“I had to think not to use the whip too many times,’’ he said.

“Also I was trying to use my voice to encourage him as much as possible. It was a matter of hanging on and he was very tough. ‘’

McNeil became a father for the first time on the horse’s birthday, August 1, when the jockey’s partner, Jess Payne, gave birth to a baby boy the couple have named Oakley.

In his moment of triumph at Flemington yesterday, McNeil was asked what advice he would give his son when he is old enough to watch Twilight Payment’s Melbourne Cup.

“Well, if he follows in my footsteps and works hard, you can achieve your goals and this has been one of mine since day one,’’ McNeil said.

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Originally published asBold ride revives memories of mighty Cup warrior

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