Derby disappointment becomes last-gasp win for Vow And Declare
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Derby disappointment becomes last-gasp win for Vow And Declare

After Vow And Declare just missed out on a start in the VRC Derby, his trainer Danny O'Brien decided to aim for a compensation prize in the TCL TV Stakes over 1800 metres.

However the owners looked set for further disappointment when the Darren Weir-trained Junipal hit the front and extended his lead with just 100 metres remaining.

Damien Oliver riding Vow And Declare.

Damien Oliver riding Vow And Declare.Credit:AAP

But Vow And Declare showed he had been entered into the Derby for a reason when he kept coming as Junipal, who had a group of excited owners in the mounting yard starting to celebrate, began to wobble and drift off his line.

All of a sudden the mood changed and it was Vow And Declare's connections who had their hands aloft as much in surprise as triumph.

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The win was enough to convince O'Brien to reset the horse, who has now won two of his five starts and only missed a place once, and aim for a Derby in the Autumn with either an Adelaide or Sydney visit on the agenda after he spells.

"Fortunately today the tempo was solid again," O'Brien said.

"I was pretty confident inside the clocktower because I knew how solid they had gone and I knew he would build and build. He was always going to run his last 100 metres as well as anything."

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O'Brien, a noted trainer of stayers, said missing the VRC Derby might prove a blessing with the horse not having to grind out a tough 2500-metre race this early in his career.

"He is a really progressive young horse so he will have his day," O'Brien said.

The win of Vow And Declare, a half brother to another O'Brien stayer Lycurgus that is entered to run over 2000 metres at Flemington on Saturday, also broke a run of outs for Damien Oliver who had not ridden a winner in the city since September 28 when he won on Meryl.

The champion hoop has been riding well, winning on Geelong Cup day and regularly filling the placings, but his return to the winner's circle was welcome for the 46-year-old.

Peter Ryan joined The Age in 2017 having covered AFL as a senior reporter with AFL Media.

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