Ben Melham admits he thought he was going to win the Melbourne Cup when he dashed clear on Johannes Vermeer only to be left heartbroken by a narrow second placing.
Melham rode the Aidan O’Brien-trained Johannes Vermeer in Tuesday’s big race and sprinted to the front in the straight only for the Joseph O’Brien-trained Rekindling and jockey Corey Brown to overhaul them in the closing stages.
Melham and Johannes Vermeer were denied by a long neck.
“It’s heartbreaking really,” the jockey said.
“But I couldn’t have asked for a better trip throughout the race.
“He relaxed beautifully from the good barrier and I was able to shift off the fence from behind the tiring horses at the right stage.
“He straightened up and travelled well into the straight and I was just mindful not to go too early on him.
“I sat on him for as long as I could then pressed the button and I thought we were home, to be honest.
“It was probably just the weight difference that was the telling story at the finish.”
The younger Rekindling had 3kg less in the $6 million, 3200m race.
Melham, who finished a luckless third on Johannes Vermeer in the Caulfield Cup at his previous start, said he was surprised to be beaten given the way Johannes Vermeer quickened when he asked him for the supreme effort.
“He quickened like the winner and I was surprised to see one come over the top of him late,” he said.
“But his run was full of merit and we might be back next year.
“Races like this you try not to get too far ahead of yourself. I knew he was a great chance all the way through and I just kept a level head all day.
“I just wanted to make sure I got it right with him because I knew he would run well if I did. We got it right and it took a smart one on the day with a bit less weight to beat him.”