The most lavish and lucrative Melbourne Cup trophy in the 151-year history of the world’s richest handicap was on Wednesday unveiled in a special presentation in Melbourne as the countdown to the ‘race that stops a nation’ begins.
For over a century and a half, the best thoroughbred stayers have been bought to Victoria to run in the gruelling two-mile showdown that is of course the Melbourne Cup.
While the status and prize money on offer to each year’s Melbourne Cup winner has continued to grow, so too has the anticipation over this famous Flemington feature now held on the first Tuesday of November.
In 2010 the Melbourne Cup prize money was boosted to $6 million and the Melbourne Cup trophy was valued at $150,000.
For the 2011 Melbourne Cup, a new trophy that is an exact reproduction of last year’s three-handled ‘Loving Cup’ holds boasting rights over all of its predecessors as the most valuable ever due to the soaring price of gold.
With continued unstable economic conditions in countries including Ireland, the US and Greece, the value of this year’s Melbourne Cup Trophy has risen to $175,000.
Now the Melbourne Cup Trophy will begin its annual tour around Australia and New Zealand, racing fans in over 30 cities able to get their glimpse of the prize handed to racing royalty.
With the increased value of the trophy comes increased security to ensure of the iconic prize’s safe return to its home at Flemington.
“There is always security around the Cup wherever it goes,” Michel Burn, Victoria Racing Club (VRC) chairman, said.
“This year we might have to step it up.”
The first stop on the 2011 Melbourne Cup Trophy tour will be Darwin, followed by 29 other cities, many of which have a unique historical significance to the race’s history.
In Tasmania, Deloraine will enjoy a visit as the city that hailed 1884 Melbourne Cup winner Malua.
New Zealand also boasts the birthplaces of many Cup champions including of course Phar Lap.
The brilliant Rising Fast, winner of the iconic spring treble of the Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup – Cox Plate in 1954, was foaled in Wellington that is also on the Trophy Tour itinerary this year.
Since the Melbourne Cup Trophy annual tour was inaugurated eight years ago, the Cup has visited 180 individual towns and cities, and this year the VRC has made a special effort to make stops in areas affected by the recent series of natural disasters.
“This year we felt it was important to visit areas affected by natural disasters, assisting them to rebuild community spirit in a united celebration of the Melbourne Cup, an event which has shaped the sporting, social and cultural fabric of Australia,” Mr Burns said.