Even over the phone you can tell Geoff Corrigan is getting emotional talking about his Melbourne Cup winning chestnut gelding Vow and Declare
Covid-19 restrictions mean that the former Camden mayor and MP, who along with his wife Sue is majority owner of the champion stayer, will watch him race on TV like the rest of us.
The last time Corrigan and the rest of the connections were trackside for a race meeting was in early March when Vow and Declare ran third in the Australian Cup at Flemington.
His next engagement was just a couple of weeks ago at Royal Randwick where he faded to finish ninth in the 2000m Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
“It was the first time ever that Vow and Declare raced in NSW so it was very disappointing that social distancing restrictions meant we could not attend,’’ says Corrigan.
Unlike other major sports horse racing has not been suspended but is held in race tracks devoid of spectators.
Trainers, strappers and jockeys – and the horses – are the only exceptions during race days, and Corrigan admits that there may be more disappointment heading into another Melbourne Cup season.
“Vow and Declare is a real people’s horse and he has a legion of followers, so it will be disappointing if they are unable to see him race in this year’s Melbourne Cup,’’ he says.
“But from what I hear I don’t think there will be 90,000 at Flemington this year, maybe 10,000 or maybe no crowd at all, the way things are going.’’
Crowds or no crowds, Corrigan confirms that the champion’s 2020 Melbourne Cup preparation under trainer Danny O’Brien will mirror that of 2019 – except for the Queensland section because of border restrictions.
After a couple of races at Flemington in the next few weeks to keep him fit for the Cup campaign, Vow and Declare will once again be entered in the Turnbull Stakes, then the Caulfied Cup, followed by the big one on the first Tuesday of November, the $8 million Melbourne Cup.
With Craig Williams once again the jockey in the bid for historic back to back Cup wins.
“That’s for sure, there’s no way we will separate Craig and Vow and Declare come Melbourne Cup time,’’ confirms Corrigan
“Danny O’Brien is thinking about the Cox Plate as well, but a decision on that hasn’t been made just yet – it will be made closer to the time,’’ he says.
In between racing Vow and Declare will be spelled at O’Brien’s seaside property at Thirteenth Beach, Barwon heads near Melbourne.
Vow and Declare, whose sire was American stallion Declaration of War and the dam Geblitzt, has had 15 race starts for four wins, three second and three third placings, with career prizemoney $5,872.690.
The four year old stayer has at least three more years of racing in him, but Corrigan says don’t expect to see him grazing in some Camden property in retirement.
“He’s such a beautiful big horse, an easy going horse and there’s one or two places in Camden,’’ says Corrigan.
“It’s more likely he will end up at a place called Living Legends in Melbourne,’’ he says.
“It’s where a lot of the champion horses are put and where the public can go and see them,’’ he says.
“It’s a long way off, but I’d say that is probably what will happen.’’