Twilight Payment holds off Tiger Moth to win 2020 Melbourne Cup

Twilight Payment holds off Tiger Moth to win 2020 Melbourne Cup

Twilight Payment put in a stunning display to win the 160th running of the Melbourne Cup at a sparsely populated Flemington Racecourse.

But the day was once again marred by tragedy, after one of the pre-race favourites, Anthony van Dyck, broke down on the home stretch and was taken from the track in an ambulance.

Seven-year-old gelding Twilight Payment led the $8m race early and managed to hold off a late surge from pre-race favourite Tiger Moth to give owner Lloyd Williams a seventh Cup win and star Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien a second.

O’Brien won his first Cup in 2017 when Rekindling beat Johannes Vermeer, trained by his father, Aidan. And the younger O’Brian came out on top again two years later after beating his father’s horse Tiger Moth to the line.

Jamie Kah, the only female jockey in this year’s race and a pre-race chance to emulate her close friend Michelle Payne’s ground breaking 2015 win, finished third aboard Prince of Arran.

Asked if he could put the win into words, Australian jockey Jye McNeil, who was riding in the Melbourne Cup for the first time, was overwhelmed.

“Not yet. There’s too many emotions. It’s a very big moment,” he said. “I’ve got goose bumps. I’m absolutely stoked I could pull it off.”

Having led from the front, McNeil had a job on his hands to keep Twilight Payment ahead of a strong-finishing Tiger Moth, piloted by Kerrin McEvoy.

Asked if he second-guessed his decision to lead throughout, McNeil said that was always the plan.

“That was always, well, probably plan A,” he said. “And it was more a little bit of pressure on me just to get it right. Thankfully, it all came off.

“I was trying not to use the whip too many times, for a start. 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.”

O’Brien, who was forced to watch the race in the early hours of the morning from Ireland, said his second Cup victory – over his father too – was special.

“Obviously it’s quite different and not what we would have liked and we would loved to have been there, but incredibly special,” he said.

“Whatever happens on the track stays there. Dad is delighted for me when I have a winner and I’m as delighted for him as when he wins a big race.

“It’s very special to be able to compete in these big races and this year in particular, there was a time when we weren’t sure if we would be able to have runners in Australia this year. So a very special thing we were able to compete in the race.”

There were just 23 runners by the time 3pm arrived, after the Danny O’Brien-trained King of Leogrance was scratched from the race earlier in the day after being found lame.

The race was run against an unfamiliar backdrop of empty stands and concourses after the public was barred from attending due to coronavirus restrictions imposed by the Victorian government.

Horse owners were also told to stay away, while even some trainers, including Chris Waller who had two runners in the race, watched on from a distance.