It wasn’t long after Joao Moreira’s spontaneous act of sportsmanship helped create another great Melbourne Cup moment that the Brazilian was already vowing to one day win the “race that stops a nation”.
It was a case of “Heartbreak City” for Moreira as he produced a freakish ride on the Irish-trained galloper of the same name, only to be beaten after a stirring battle up the Flemington straight by Almandin and jockey Kerrin McEvoy.
It was only a stride after the line in the A$6 million race and Moreira had already put the agonising defeat to one side and joyously slapped McEvoy on the back to create another image that will become synonymous with Australia’s most famous race.
Still, as genuinely happy as Moreira was for his rival, the runner-up finish has only fuelled his desire to add the iconic trophy to his ever-expanding collection.
“I’ll be back and I’ll win this race,” Moreira declared to local media after a riding a near-perfect race on a horse that was later found to have suffered an internal bleeding issue.
From barrier 23, the second-widest starting stall, Moreira weaved his way into a one-off position before the first turn and had his horse travelling beautifully with around 500 metres to go.
The rider then pushed through an needle-eye opening and sprinted past favourite Hartnell, only to find himself locked in an epic duel with the winner over the final stages.
“We had a beautiful run through. Turning for home I thought we were going to win as I went past Hartnell easily but when I looked on my outside McEvoy had his horse full of himself as well and went for a battle,” Moreira said.
“My horse tried as best as he could, maybe 120 per cent of himself, but at the end I wasn’t able to succeed. Running second is not the best but we can’t be disappointed with the horse. He was giving the best of himself for a long way but he just got tired in the final 50 metres.”
While Moreira’s ride was near-perfect, McEvoy’s was just that little bit better, as he stalked Heartbreak City throughout much of the race and found clear space after turning.
“Gee, he travelled well. How lucky am I? The elation’s unreal,” McEvoy said.
The win was McEvoy’s second in the race after Brew’s victory in 2000. It was also trainer Robert Hickmott’s second after Green Moon in 2012 and delivered Lloyd Williams a record fifth triumph as owner.
“He’s been well prepared by Lloyd, he knows what to do with these staying races,” McEvoy said.
“It’s just a dream, it’s great to be a part of it again. I’d like to thank Lloyd and Rob Hickmott for giving me the chance.”
The only other Hong Kong-based jockey competing in the race, Chad Schofield, finished 12th on Oceanographer. The Godolphin-trained stayer failed to reproduce his trademark sprint and was found to be lame post-race.
“He just didn’t back up,” Schofield said of a horse that pushed his way into the field with an electrifying win last Saturday. “I had the first two horses around me in the run, but he was very one-paced up the straight.”
Hong Kong punters bet HK$118.2 million on the six-race simulcast from Flemington, up slightly from last year’s HK$117.47 million.