Punters will have the chance to hold an Aussie icon and take the ultimate selfie when the $600,000 Melbourne Cup trophy makes tracks into Canberra in September.
As part of its international tour leading up to the 2023 ‘race that stops the nation’, the 18-carat-gold cup will gallop into a Pegasus Riding for the Disabled garden party, before heading to virtual racing events at Woden’s Southern Cross Club and The Dock on the Kingston Foreshore.
During the two-day tour, Canberra racing fans will have an opportunity to hold and have their photos taken with the iconic trophy, while also supporting a local charity.
Racing & Sports head of racing operations Alex Steedman is excited the company’s bid to host the cup has been successful with it returning to the nation’s capital after more than a decade. He’s also pleased the tour will raise much-needed funds for Pegasus Riding for the Disabled.
“I think there was an upsurge among Canberrans to have the Melbourne Cup visit,” he said.
“One of the great things about the annual tour is the ability for communities to use it as a way to showcase and fundraise for local charities like Pegasus.
“It will be a pretty cool opportunity to have a photo holding the cup.”
During the Pegasus luncheon on Tuesday 5 September, volunteers, participants and their families are encouraged to frock up in true Melbourne Cup style while the cup takes centre stage.
Pegasus fundraising and event coordinator Jo Kennedy said the luncheon would be held in the beautiful Pegasus Farm gardens with the therapy horses making the perfect backdrop.
“We have invited members of the Pegasus community to come along and experience a bit of Australian culture and history,” she said.
“We hope everyone will wear a fascinator and get into the spirit of the cup, with our event being held on the first Tuesday in September!”
Also on 5 September, from 5 pm until 7 pm, the Canberra Southern Cross Club Woden will host a special event featuring the ‘Greatest Melbourne Cup Never Run’ sweepstake, as well as a fashions on the field competition and short interviews with RAS CEO Stephen Crispe, Pegasus CEO Matt Wilson and former Racing Victoria Club (VRC) chief steward Des Gleeson.
There will be complimentary canapes and free Racing & Sports merchandise, and the Canberra Southern Cross Club is donating $1 from each beverage purchased during the event to Pegasus.
The virtual race, researched and designed by the Racing & Sports team, will be shown on the big screen and feature Melbourne Cup champions including Phar Lap, Makybe Diva, Carbine and the first cup winner, Archer.
Each pre-booked guest will receive a free entry into the sweepstake. The Canberra Southern Cross Club is providing prizes for first, second and third placegetters in the virtual race. Bookings for the free event can be made on the club website. Walk-ins are also welcome.
On Wednesday 6 September, the cup will shine at the Racing & Sports office at Kingston from 3:30 pm, before heading to The Dock Kingston Foreshore from 5 pm until 8 pm.
Alex said the ‘Greatest Melbourne Cup Never Run’ would again be shown on the big screen at The Dock, with a charity sweep held for Pegasus at 7:30 pm.
“Tickets for the Dock sweep are $10 each, with 50 per cent of sales going towards Pegasus and the other 50 per cent going toward prizes for those who draw the first, second, third and last horses in the sweep,” he said.
Racing & Sports has collated racing data and performance ratings dating back to the mid 19th century and used them to create a hypothetical Melbourne Cup video featuring the best previous winners of the race since it was first run in 1861.
Running for Resilience (R4R) will also hold its annual six-kilometre race from The Dock, with categories including open men and women’s, over 50 years and the Clydesdale category for men over 100 kilograms, with the Melbourne Cup waiting at the finish line!
Alex said the cup tour was an opportunity to showcase Racing & Sports’ world-class technological innovations and raise funds for a horse-focussed charity.
Funds raised from the promotions will go towards Pegusus’ mounted and unmounted equine therapy programs that provide physical, psychological, social, educational and recreational benefits for people with a disability.
“We can’t do what we do without that funding,” Jo explained.
“Funding makes up 53 per cent of our revenue to run our programs, and we are always looking to expand and build on what we’ve got so that we can accommodate more participants.”
VRC chairman Neil Wilson said the 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour had spanned seven countries – Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Hong Kong and Japan.
“It’s recognised everywhere as the People’s Cup, and we want it to be accessible to everyone and to support charity fundraising activity in each destination the cup visits,” he said.
Alex said Racing & Sports, a Canberra-based technology, data, digital and media company that services the global racing and wagering industry, had enjoyed a strong 12 months and was at a stage where it could give back to the community. He hoped the Canberra community would come out for the unique event and rally support for Pegasus Riding for the Disabled.