“Dedicate this to dad”: A group of mates lucky $500,000 Melbourne Cup win
A group of mates will be counting their blessings after winning $500,000 by backing Vow and declaring months ago they would be victorious in the Melbourne Cup.
The incredible moment they realised they had won an eye watering amount was recorded on video.
39-year-old Alex Xerri made a number of bets starting from June when Vow and Declare were at huge odds. Thankfully this bet paid off in the end, and won him $320,000 on Tuesday, as well as an extra $200,000 by his friends who followed his hot tip.
The video was shot by his friend Jimmy Hoyne, and showed the group’s excitement when the gelding surged home and snatched up the Melbourne Cup.
The moment felt bittersweet for Mr Xerri who’s father Paul, 81, passed away a month ago, before he had the chance to collect $40,000 from bets he also made on the winning horse.
“It was difficult, I was really sad that he never got to watch the Cup and share in the excitement and happiness,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
“He always backed my judgement and I know he's proud of me. It was a very touching and emotional moment.
“I have to dedicate this to dad.”
Xerri said he and his dad hopefully placed their first bets on June 8 after watching Vow and Declare come second in the Queensland Derby.
Just two weeks later, the racehorse won the Tattersall's Cup, however they then had to wait months to see it would compete again at the Turnbull Stakes on October 5.
However, in a turn of tragic events, Paul suddenly died from an unexpected heart attack the morning of the race, a month before the Melbourne Cup would commence.
Xerri said a eulogy delivered at his funeral expressed how excited Paul was to put his bets to the ultimate test.
“The speech said how he was really excited about a horse that will run in the Melbourne Cup, and last few months of his life that's what he was really looking for,” he said.
The winning son said his father would continue to place bets on the horses despite being told to stop.
“We went through his wallet and he had all his bet slips printed and A4 sheet of paper,” he explained.
“He believed it would happen, he'd never won that sort of money in his life and we were talking about what we would do if it won.”
Mr Xerri said he became convinced Vow and Declare could win the Melbourne Cup after it won an 1,800m race on Oaks Day in 2018.
Paul listened to the advice of renowned horse trainer Danny O'Brien, who talked up his horse's abilities.
“He said it was an elite staying prospect and everything it was doing suggested it could run the Cup's distance,” he recalled.
“I thought from then it was a potential Melbourne Cup champion.”
Xerri placed more bets in following months after initially placing $100 for the horses to win at 201/1 and $900 to place at 51/1 at the Queensland Derby.
He placed more bets in following months and convinced 25 friends to get on board and place their own bets on the same horses.
The gamble earned him about $320,000 in winnings by Tuesday’s race, and his friends $200,000 between them.
Mr Hoyne's video showed the five friends getting progressively more excited as Vow and Declare entered the final straight on the tail of the leader and gradually wore down the margin.
When Vow and Declare crossed the line first, the room erupted.
“I have never felt a rush like that in my life... words cannot explain,” the friend who filmed the scene said.
“Such a big day for the family man been riding this horse for over a year and to see it come true - unbelievable.”
Xerri said there was a lot of anticipation leading up to the race as he knew he and others had cash riding on the result.
“I was nervous, my legs were jelly. I'd told so many for so long and they'd put money on it just because I said to,” he said.
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