Gympie gelding at long odds in $8m Melbourne Cup
GYMPIE will be front and centre at the Lexus 2020 Melbourne Cup when champion stayer Vow and Declare lines up in against 23 international and local horses to race over 3200m for $8 million in prizemoney.
While Vow and Declare has been not too impressive in recent outings and is currently paying odds of about $51, he is certain to still be a sentimental favourite with Gympie punters.
The reigning Australian Champion Stayer of the Year finished fourth-last in the Caulfield Cup last start and fourth-last again in the Turnbull Stakes at Flemington on October 3.
The five-year-old gelding has not placed since finishing third in the 2000m Australian Cup in March, but as the winner of last year’s cup he qualified in the first ballot for this year’s great race.
None of the four horses to have won the Lexus Melbourne Cup in consecutive years have done so under different jockeys, and Vow and Declare is expected to be ridden by a different jockey on Tuesday.
With crowds and connections barred from attending the Melbourne Cup, part-owners Bob Leitch and Anthony Lanskey, who both work at Gympie High School, will meet up with their Vow and Declare connections for a day at Doomben on Melbourne Cup Day.
Mr Leitch said in an interview earlier today they had applied for long service leave a year ago, thinking they would all be going to Melbourne for this year’s Cup, but Doomben will have to suffice.
Vow and Declare trainer Danny O’Brien told the Melbourne Age last month the field this year was “one of the strongest fields in my lifetime” despite fears the COVID-19 pandemic would reduce the amount of international competition.
Mr Leitch said he and the other owners would have their “fingers, toes and whatever elsed crossed” come Tuesday and it was hard to tell what impact the changed circumstances had on the horses.
”..without the crowd the noise, it certainly would be a different experience for them,” he said.
His best advice to the punters was to have $10 each way on the superstar horse Gympie has claimed as its own.
Four of the first five horses home in last year’s Melbourne Cup – Vow And Declare, Master Of Reality, Prince Of Arran and Surprise Baby – are all set to line up once more on Tuesday, as well as some from the beaten brigade, such as Steel Prince and Twilight Payment, who are arguably in better form than they were 12 months ago.