The 2010 Emirates Melbourne Cup trophy was the “guest of honor” at an exclusive black tie dinner in Los Angeles the evening of April 24. The event was one stop in an expanded world tour for the prized international racing trophy and organizers of one of racing’s highest profile races.
For the past five years, the Melbourne Cup trophy has been taken on the road to key cities around the globe as part of a program to grow the international reputation of the race and build business ties with Australia. This year is the 150th anniversary of the Melbourne Cup, which will be run Nov. 2 at Flemington Racecourse, so the tour was expanded into a 220-day visit to 42 destinations around the globe.
“The Victoria Racing Club brand is well-recognized and associated with high quality and high lifestyle,” said Sue Lloyd-Williams, deputy chief executive for the racing club. “The concept of the tour I developed was to use the Cup as an envoy to promote bilateral trade and tourism. We encourage people to come to Australia, do business in Australia, but also to do the reverse and develop connections between Australian business and other parts of the world.”
Many of the connections the tour hopes to build on include those with North American racing associations and organizations.
“We would love to get an American horse to compete in the Melbourne Cup,” said Lloyd-Williams. Because of the expansion of global racing, Victoria has established protocols by which a horse goes into quarantine in its own country for 14 days before the race, ships in for the event, then returns home. In 1993, Irish trainer Dermot Weld became the first to win the Melbourne Cup with a Northern Hemisphere-based horse, Vintage Cup. Weld won it again in 2002 with Media Puzzle. Then in 2006, two Japanese runners, Delta Blues and Pop Rocks, finished first and second.
“These victories demonstrated to the world that this race could be won by a horse outside Australia,” said Lloyd-Williams. “This year the purse is around US$5.58 million.” The record purse makes the Melbourne Cup the world's richest handicap race.
Besides the U.S., the Cup will be taken to nine other countries and all the Australian states and territories.
Some interesting details about this year's Melbourne Cup trophy:
* The design is modeled after the 1930 trophy won by the legendary Phar Lap.
* The total weight of the trophy, crafted over 250 man hours by Hardy Brothers Jewellers, is just under four kilograms and includes 2.34 kgs of 18 ct. gold. The trophy has 44 pieces including the base and is valued at US$139,500.
* The timber base of the Cup is hand turned from Australian Wattle from Queensland. This wood has been the traditional base of every Melborne Cup trophy since the race's inception in 1861.