Joseph O’Brien thwarted his famous father’s bid for Melbourne Cup glory once again when Twilight Payment won Australia’s greatest race at Flemington.
For the second time in a training career still in its infancy, O’Brien claimed a Melbourne Cup that was expected to fall to the all-conquering stable run by his father Aidan.
It was Twilight Payment who lapped up one of the world’s most celebrated staying contests to lead an all-international finish and beat his father’s horse Tiger Moth and the English-trained Prince Of Arran.
The younger O’Brien won his first Melbourne Cup in 2017 when Rekindling beat Johannes Vermeer, trained by his father.
In a desperate finish, Twilight Payment, ridden by young jockey Jye McNeil, also confirmed Lloyd Williams’ place as the most successful owner in Melbourne Cup history with his seventh victory.
Despite the familiarity about the result for Williams, it was a Melbourne Cup like no other.
For the first time in its rich history, the race was run against a backdrop of silence.
As Melbourne’s pandemic restrictions remained in place, Flemington numbers were restricted to trainers, jockeys and key personnel.
McNeil rode a heady race from the front after taking Twilight Payment to the lead as the field passed the winning post the first time.
He increased the pace from the 1000m and sent his mount out to a clear advantage as the field swung into the straight.
From there, McNeil said he was confident Twilight Payment could keep the momentum going despite Tiger Moth and Prince Of Arran closing hard.
“I was confident. I was trying not to use the whip too many times,” McNeil, a winner in his maiden Cup ride, said.
“And 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.
“To be able to get the opportunity from the Williams family to partner Twilight Payment today – not only them, but also Joseph O’Brien, who’s done a fantastic job preparing him.
“Yeah, it’s very overwhelming.”
The Cup will rank as another near miss for Aidan O’Brien, a defeat made even more agonising after his stable’s English Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck broke down and failed to finish.