Jockey Craig Williams and trainer Danny O’Brien pose with the trophy after winning with Vow And Declare. Pic: AAP Image/Michael Dodge
Jockey Craig Williams and trainer Danny O’Brien pose with the trophy after winning with Vow And Declare. Pic: AAP Image/Michael Dodge

Why Cup winner might look abroad

DANNY O'Brien will let the dust settle before revisiting his most famous project - the micro-managed rise of Vow And Declare.

Still coming to terms with one of the most gripping and thrilling editions of the great race, O'Brien outlined plans to return to Flemington next November with a stronger, more mature horse.

Beyond that, O'Brien is tentatively open to campaigning Vow And Declare on the international stage in what would be the ultimate racing reversal - an Australian stayer taking on the world away from home.

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"He's a difficult horse to place because his best distance is 3200m and we don't have many of those types of races here," O'Brien said after a night of celebrations in South Melbourne.

"The horse has had a very light spring and, to be honest, he didn't have a hard run yesterday.

"At this stage, we're thinking he'll have a light autumn and probably start in the Australian Cup and maybe the BMW.

"Our aim is next year's Cup but with the extra weight he'll be required to carry, he will need to mature and strengthen up.

Danny O'Brien with wife Nina and kids Grace and Thomas pose with Vow And Declare at the trainer's stables the day after the win. Pic: Getty Images
Danny O'Brien with wife Nina and kids Grace and Thomas pose with Vow And Declare at the trainer's stables the day after the win. Pic: Getty Images

"We're limited in a sense because we want to run him as often as possible at 3200m and there aren't many of those types of races in Australia - but there is a very big one."

Given the lack of 3200m contests in Australia, O'Brien could be tempted to venture to Europe with the chestnut, whose freakish genetics would make him a factor at even longer trips.

First and foremost, O'Brien says the Cup hero needs to continue his startling upward spiral.

"He would need to improve between four and five lengths to take on the internationals in their backyard," he said.

"He carried 52kg yesterday and won by a head. It's something we could look at in a year or two but he needs to become stronger."

O'Brien with family and connections celebrated long into the night. Picture: Ian Currie
O'Brien with family and connections celebrated long into the night. Picture: Ian Currie

Now one of the truly elite operators to have landed Melbourne racing's trilogy - Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup - O'Brien reflected on a journey from Kyabram to racing immortality.

A law and economics degree at Melbourne University gave way to the start of his training career in 1995 and significant success before the cobalt case in 2014 which threatened his livelihood.

"I've never really focused on it (the cobalt saga) as being a motivating factor," he said.

"I've just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward.

"We've gradually established ourselves and to get the result we did yesterday was fantastic.

"It's been a 25-year journey, really - 25 years of hard work."

Trembling with emotion, O'Brien presented his wife Nina with the trainers' trophy on Tuesday.

Vow and Declare pipped its rivals on the line. Pic: Getty Images
Vow and Declare pipped its rivals on the line. Pic: Getty Images

On Wednesday, as he contemplated a second tilt with Vow And Declare, he mused over the beauty of Cup celebrations.

"It was great. There were lots of kids and very happy adults there," he said.

"People tend to get giddy around the Melbourne Cup and it was great to see people getting giddy.

"It was a wonderful celebration and one I'll never forget."

News Corp Australia

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