Sydney, Nov 5: Aussie horse Vow and Declare has won Australia's Melbourne Cup horse race on Tuesday, beating out Master of Reality and Prince of Arran in a dramatic photo finish.
Trained by Danny O'Brien and ridden by jockey Craig Williams, the local favorite came in at long odds against an international field of elite competitors. "I feel very honored," Williams told broadcaster channel 10 after the race. "I grew up, I watched races... and dreamt of these occasions."
"Danny O'Brien gave me no instruction, he said trust the horse, trust yourself, he has done a great job, it's amazing team work and I couldn't do it without my team around me," he added. Often referred to as 'the race that stops the nation,' the Melbourne Cup is widely considered to be among the world's most iconic and glamorous races, with the 8 million Australian (5.5 million U.S.) dollars in prize money, attracting a star-studded contingent of competitors.
A public holiday in the State of Victoria, across the rest of the country it's a national tradition for workers and school children to take the afternoon off and watch the globe's richest 3200-meter thoroughbred handicap on television. Although for most Aussies, the event is more about the carnival atmosphere than they actual race, in recent years the spectacle (which dates back to 1861) has come under fire from some sections of the community with many concerned about the number of horses that are injured or killed during races.
With the issue once again thrust back into the spotlight just weeks ago after an report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation highlighted the widespread mistreatment of ex-race horses across the industry, the backlash against the Melbourne Cup appears to be increasing. As a result, high profile American pop star Taylor Swift cancelled her scheduled trackside appearance at the event and it's been reported by local media that race organizers have had a hard time luring other mega-celebrities Down Under to promote the race.
But while a crowd of demonstrators picketed Flemington Racecourse gates today, protesting against animal cruelty and the promotion of gambling, it's estimated that well over 100,000 people attended the race with millions more watching the action on television. (UNI-XINHUA)