The Melbourne Cup - a celebration of Champions

The Melbourne Cup - a celebration of Champions

Published on Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Article as published on Horse Racing Only Image: Racing Photos

It was a performance of royal command quality … a four-length demolition job, which beat the opposition into submission in such emphatic terms that there would be no excuse for any beaten runner as the glory trail of a fascinating 2021 edition of the Melbourne Cup victory was written into the record books.

The manner of the victory was exactly what was being touted throughout the weeks leading into the Melbourne Cup, but the race went off script in a most significant way as the winner was not the horse who was predicted to dominate … with Verry Elleegant, instead, emerging in that leading role, brushing aside all others, including the hot favourite Incentivise, to reinforce her superior credentials and rubber-stamp her status as a champion of the turf.

It was Verry Eleegant’s fifteenth win from thirty-four starts … which includes an astounding ten Group 1 wins … with the Cup win, which was obviously her biggest career success, boosting her prize-money earnings to an incredible $14 290 744.

It was also a crowning moment for Australia’s best trainer and best jockey.

Chris Waller watched the cup from the privacy of his own home in the company of his family. All too often on track, after his big race wins, we have witnessed the deep emotion experienced by Waller through his success, his love of the horse, his acknowledgement of his stable staff, and his absolute respect for the industry … so we can only imagine how joyful he and his family were at the result and, in keeping with his philosophy, how humbled he would have felt in processing what he had just achieved.

For James McDonald there was no such privacy. McDonald was on centre stage at Flemington.

Approaching the winning post on Verry Elleegant, McDonald briefly looked behind him, just to make sure nothing was coming at him. When he saw daylight the enormity of the moment immediately hit home. In an explosion of emotion McDonald stood upright in the saddle and his left hand went up to cover his eyes, his head tilted skyward.

Several strides later, McDonald was bent over in the saddle, head down with his left hand still covering the tears of elation. Then he was up again in the saddle with the left arm now extended straight and up high with finger pointed in a victory salute that, coupled with the huge smile on McDonald’s face, shone a magnificent light on just what it meant to be a Melbourne Cup winner.


The return to scale and McDonald’s continued joy … both arms held upright, the fist-pump, the scream of delight … was no less of a pleasure to behold.

It was a celebration of a victory but, as importantly, it was a celebration of three champions … Chris Waller, James McDonald and, certainly not least, Verry Elleegant herself.

It was Melbourne Cup theatre at its very best.

The pinnacle of racing in Australia had once again produced a magnificent race, of which the whole of Australia can be proud!