‘Little fat kid’ banishes Cup demons
"HONEY, we're going to win the Melbourne Cup."
Champion jockey Craig Williams was that confident Vow And Declare would deliver him the biggest prize in Australian racing he made the bold declaration to his wife, Larysa, after the Caulfield Cup.
Williams, 42, broke through to win the Melbourne Cup in his 15th attempt with a pearl of a ride aboard the Danny O'Brien-trained stayer.
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The breakthrough win will not define Williams, who now holds all three of Melbourne spring racing majors, but it will help the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate winner banish the demons of losing the ride on 2012 Cup winner Dunaden through suspension.
"It's ... I don't know what surreal is, I haven't looked it up in the dictionary, but everyone keeps using it," Williams said.
"I'm so lucky to be able to share it with my team, my close friends, people around me and most importantly my family.
"I would've loved to win it (the Cup) earlier but that's how it is, how it worked out, I'm so lucky."
Williams' father and former jockey Allan beamed with pride after his son's Cup win.
"I was always hoping (he would win one), he's worked really hard all his life, and if it was today he wouldn't get a berth because he was a fat little kid when he started," Allan Williams said.
Williams walked the track at Flemington three times before the race and was convinced the rail was the place to be.
The eight-time Melbourne premiership winner went into the race with a clear mind and "full reins" from trainer Danny O'Brien and then was able to withstand the wall of imports surging at the finish.
O'Brien had full confidence in Williams to do the job despite him putting Vow And Declare on speed from barrier 21.
"I thought it was an incredibly courageous thing for him to do," O'Brien said.
"I'll have to watch it again but I'd suspect it was the winning move, I don't think he would've won if he had gone back.
"That's why you put guys like (Williams on) ... he dances to his own beat, backs himself in."