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Image: Bruno Cannatelli
State Of Rest has survived a protest to give Irish trainer Joseph O'Brien his first Cox Plate

Young Irish trainer Joseph O’Brien has added a Cox Plate to his two Melbourne Cups after State Of Rest survived a protest to claim the weight-for-age championship at The Valley.

One of two early arrivals for this year’s Spring Carnival, the O’Brien stable had to survive a protest by Craig Williams aboard the Godolphin colt Anamoe in a dramatic aftermath to the Cox Plate.

After hearing evidence from the parties including winning rider John R Allen, Racing Victoria stewards eventually dismissed the objection after a long deliberation.

A $7.50 chance in betting, State Of Rest defeated the $3.60 equal favourite Anamoe by a short-head with the other equal favourite Verry Elleegant a length away third.

Allen was unsure of how the protest would play out.

“Craig’s always a good talker,” Allen said.

“I think there were too many Paddy’s in there for them to understand us. The way it was going, there were a few anxious moments but I think the right decision was made.”

With COVID restricting the influx of international riders for the Spring Carnival, Allen got the call up.

He had a previous association with the stable through O’Brien’s grandfather Joe Crowley when riding in Ireland before making the move to Australia early last decade.

Allen said the race panned out well, but he had to press the button a little earlier than expected given a gap appeared.

“How well I quickened I was surprised how quickly one got to me as he did,” Allen said.

“It was a ding-dong battle and luckily we got our head down on the line.”

Mark Power, who has travelled to Australia previously with O’Brien’s Melbourne Cup winners Rekindling and Twilight Payment, said it was an unbelievable effort from everyone involved.

“Today is nothing but a true reflection of what it took to get this horse here today,” Power said.

“There’s that many dimensions, from farriers, vets, lads who look after them at home.

“And we’ve a fair man pre-training them for us in Joseph O’Brien as well. It’s their standard and it’s a credit to the whole team at home, it’s amazing.”

For Power, the way protests hearings are held in Australia are different to those back in Ireland.

He described it as not being good for the heart.

“I’m absolutely trembling like a leaf,” Power said.

“I think I remember some of it. Luckily, we had Johnny. It’s a relatively new process for me and luckily we came out on the right side of it.”

Williams said Anamoe was game in defeat.

“We had grounds to hopefully overturn the positions in the stewards’ room but we weren’t so fortunate,” Williams said.

“That’s racing and we move on.

“He is a serious racehorse and for a three-year-old to go so close, he’s a real Australian star in the making.

“I’m looking forward to his future starts and unfortunately we ran second today.”

 
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