His owner Paul Lanskey watched on as an air of disinterest fell over the Inglis Sales, with his young horse being passed in on a low bid of $45,000.
It was $15,000 under what he wanted, and so the Noosa businessman put Vow and Declare back in the float and drove him home.
The horse was sired by the stallion Declaration Of War out of the dam Geblitzt, and Lanskey had had some track success with the horse’s half-brother Lycurgus.
He’d named the horse after his father, who was known to disappear to the pub on the odd occasion and then announce on his return “I vow and declare I only had six beers”, Lanskey decided to take a punt on his racing chances.
Lanskey offered shares in a syndicate to family and friends, signing up 13 owners who were happy to give the “clumsy” Vow and Declare a go.
One of those investors was Mr Lanskey’s nephew, Anthony Lanskey, the principal of Gympie State High School, who roped in one of his old mates, the town’s deputy mayor Bob Leitch.
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Over the coming year, at his first three races, Vow and Declare looked to be something of a disappointment and hopes weren’t overly high for his career.
“He didn’t run a place in his first couple of runs,” Anthony Lanskey told the Gympie Times.
But trainer Danny O’Brien sensed he was on to something special, telling The Age recently that the horse had clear “class and a bit of stamina”.
Just over 12 months ago, that promise he sensed was put on full display.
“It wasn’t until he won on Oaks Day this time last year that we thought, ‘hang on, we might have something good on our hands here’,” Anthony Lanskey said.
That punt, as well as the gamble of those 13 owners who backed a horse that no-one wanted at the Inglis Sales in 2017, has paid off with today’s sensational Melbourne Cup win.
At the weekend, in an interview with the Herald Sun, O’Brien was confident in the four-year-old’s chance at the Cup, although conceded it was a strong international field.
“This is the one … it is a very elusive target, more and more so with the internationalisation of the race in the last decade,” O’Brien said.
“There are very few Australian connections that even get a look at it these days.”
Today’s win, described as “one for the ages”, came about in large part because the horse “ticks every box”, O’Brien said.
“He is bred in Australia, he is owned by Australians, he is ridden (Craig Williams) and trained by Australians, I think he is the only one in the race who can say that.”
Vow and Declare’s owners will now share in the massive $4.4 million prize.
“We’ve only got a small piece of it, but have been enjoying the ride for sure,” Anthony Lanskey told the Gympie Times yesterday.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind really and its gone pretty quickly.”
Of Vow and Declare’s personality, he said: “He’s a very quiet animal and the people that handle him love him and he’s a really nice horse. He is a pretty versatile character and is a relaxed horse.”
Racing website Punters says prior to today, Vow and Declare’s career winnings were $1.07 million.
“He has proven a profitable horse for the punters over the journey. If you had backed Vow And Declare throughout his career you’d have achieved a 87 per cent return on investment.”