Latrobe cannot quite get there as O'Brien just misses out in Mackinnon
Former Irish jumps jockey John Allen wins second Group 1 in as many weekends
Joseph O'Brien won last year's Melbourne Cup and he very nearly landed this year's Group 1 Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes as his Irish Derby winner Latrobe only just failed to run down long-time leader Trap For Fools.
Latrobe was dropped out and challenged widest up the Flemington straight under Mark Zahra, but he was never quite getting to the 25-1 outsider, trained by Jarrod McLean and expertly ridden by former Irish jumps jockey John Allen.
Coming to Australia, Latrobe had a very similar profile to last year's Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling, and to many it was a surprise when owners Lloyd and Nick Williams decided to skip the race they love to target more than any other to aim at Saturday's Mackinnon. It very nearly paid off with a head in it at the line.
"Mark gave the horse a fantastic ride and he's run a gallant race," said O'Brien. "The winner got it a little bit soft up front for us to come from where we did but I couldn't ask for any more from the horse and I'm delighted with the run.
"He's only a three-year-old and he's carrying a lot of weight, but we have something to dream about going forward."
Latrobe does have the option of the Japan Cup a fortnight on Sunday and connections will think about whether to send him to Tokyo.
Winning jockey Allen, who produced a beauty from the front to get the better of Latrobe and Extra Brut – the horse he rode to win last week's Victoria Derby - said: "I took a chance a few years ago and it's paid off. Thanks to Darren Weir and all of him team, and Jarrod, who does a lot of work with Darren's team. It's great to pay them back.
"A big thank you to Jarrod for giving me this ride. The horse, he’s just so tough. I was rolling along at a good tempo and then I picked it up. Latrobe got to me at the furlong pole, I thought he had me for toast. This guy put his head down and fought.
"I was waiting for my old mate Extra Brut to come after me late but I was too strong today."
Allen also partnered the Weir-trained Kenedna to victory in the Group 2 7News Matriarch Stakes.
Charlie Appleby's Blair House had every chance in the Mackinnon but faded to finish seventh.
The trainer said: "It was a bit disappointing but he's one of those horses, Will [Buick] rode him cold - which is the way to ride him - and he picked up, but at the end of the day he's just flattened out. Whether he's just had enough for this carnival I don't know, I've not spoken to Will yet."
He added: "It's been a great carnival, the Victoria Racing Club have looked after us fantastically well and we're just pleased to be going home with the Melbourne Cup."
Santa Ana Lane lands VRC Sprint Classic
As for Buick, his wait to add Australia to the list of eight countries in which he has ridden a Group 1 winner goes on as he dead-heated for third aboard Jungle Cat in the day's other top-level contest, the VRC Sprint Classic.
The race, won by Santa Ana Lane under Latrobe's jockey Mark Zahra, turned into something of a dash which did not suit Appleby's retiring six-year-old and he said: "I'm delighted. That was the last run of his career and as per usual he's not let us down.
"He's run a fantastic and courageous race and I couldn't be more thrilled with the horse. He's a winner of the Al Quoz and the Sir Rupert Clarke at Group 1 level, he's multiple Group 1-placed and I'm sure he'll have a great retirement. I'm sure we'll see plenty of his progeny in future."
Aidan O'Brien saddled four, with Spirit Of Valor once again placing best as US Navy Flag, Intelligence Cross and Fleet review failed to get competitive.
O'Brien's travelling head lad TJ Comerford said of sixth-placed Spirit Of Valor: "He travelled like the winner and he's run well. I think they could have gone quicker for him really."
On US Navy Flag, who finished 13th, he added: "I think they went steady enough early; at Newmarket [when he won the July Cup] they went flat out."
Intelligence Cross and Fleet Review finished 11th and last in the 14-runner Group 1, in which Everest winner and favourite Redzel was fifth.
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