AGAINST all odds, the Melbourne Cup did not pass into the hands of media moguls or foreign princes, but a bunch of Aussie battlers from drought-torn places like Gympie and Warwick.
Among them was Assumption College, Warwick, principal Kort Goodman.
“(It was) an amazing feeling and really quite surreal; we were obviously initially ecstatic but then really pinching ourselves,” Mr Goodman, who is a part-owner with 13 others of this year’s winner Vow And Declare, said.
The four-year-old chestnut gelding is the first Australian runner to win the $8 million race since Shocking in 2009.
“Being part of a group of such quality people made the experience all the better,” Mr Goodman said.
He said the community reaction was “amazing and overwhelming”.
It was the win the region needed.
“… It has been a privilege to share this experience with our family, friends and the wider community,” Mr Goodman said.
“Two of the other owners and their wives live in Gympie, and my wife and I obviously currently live in Warwick but we have also spent a large part of our lives living in Roma and, given the current horrendous ongoing drought, we hope that lots of the people in those communities could get a bit of joy out of this experience.”
Vow And Declare won in the last moments of the race.
After it was run and won, stewards protested on behalf of Il Paradiso’s connections against Master of Reality for causing interference.
Master of Reality was relegated from second to fourth place, Prince of Arran was bumped up to second and Il Paradiso was promoted to third.
It had been a strange turn of events that led Mr Goodman coming to part-own Vow And Declare.
Long-time friend Anthony Lanskey’s uncle Paul bred the horse, Mr Goodman said.
When it got passed in at the Inglis yearling sale for failing to make the $45,000 reserve, Paul offered friends and family the chance to be part of a group of owners.
Anthony invited Mr Goodman to be among them.
“(And) I am obviously very grateful for (that),” Mr Goodman said.
Vow And Declare’s trainer Danny O’Brien has hopes for a back-to-back win in next year’s cup.
“Danny O’Brien … has already indicated that the horse will be back to defend the cup next year provided that all goes well for the horse over the next 12 months,” Mr Goodman said.
Growing up far from the glitz and glamour of Flemington, Mr Goodman never expected to win the race that stops the nation.
“I think when you have spent the great majority of your life living in South West Queensland and on the Darling Downs surrounded by people (who) are involved in the racing industry you wonder what it would be like to win a Melbourne Cup but I never really dreamt it would happen,” he said.