2019 VRC Spring Carnival – Lexus Melbourne Cup Day
It was an Australian win in the 159th Melbourne Cup as Vow and Declare delivered a thrilling finish to the $8 million ‘race that stops a nation’ TM at Flemington Racecourse. The 4-year-old gelding held off Master of Reality and Prince of Arran to secure Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien and champion jockey Craig Williams their first wins in Australia’s greatest race. Following a protest, Master of Realty was demoted to fourth and last year’s third-place getter Prince of Arran was shifted to second with Il Paradiso promoted into third. It is the first time in ten years that an Australian-owned and bred horse has won the big race.
Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson said it was a thrilling spectacle. “Congratulations to Flemington trainer Danny O’Brien and jockey Craig Williams on their first wins in the Melbourne Cup, and to the connections of Vow and Declare. The Lexus Melbourne Cup attracts the finest Australian and international staying horses as well as thousands of people who travel to Melbourne from interstate and overseas to join Victorians in being part of the race that stops a nation. It’s brilliant to see the Lexus Melbourne Cup trophy remain in Melbourne after what was such an exciting finish to our great race in front of 81,408 racegoers at Flemington,” Mr Wilson said.
Mr Wilson also congratulated the community of Bunyip, Victoria which was the winning Melbourne Cup National Sweep destination. “The VRC is proud to present the community of Bunyip with $50,000 to put towards the community initiative Bunyip and District Community House.”
Following Melbourne Cup Day, Damien Oliver leads the Ron Hutchison Award for jockeys during Melbourne Cup Carnival with 15 points, while Chris Waller leads the JB Cummings Award for trainers on 13 points.
The pre-Cup entertainment featured a musical tribute to the iconic ‘People’s Cup’ with a medley of the unofficial anthems of Australia. With the support of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir, Mahalia Barnes performed You’re the Voice followed by ARIA Hall of Fame artist John Paul Young and Love is in the Air.
The Lexus Melbourne Cup was delivered to VRC Chairman Amanda Elliott in the Mounting Yard by Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassador Tegan Martin escorted by flag bearers and owners representing each of the horses competing in the ‘race that stops a nation’. To the sounds of Down Under, the 24 jockeys were introduced to the Mounting Yard, before musical theatre leading man Michael Cormick performed This is the Moment in a special tribute to this year’s Melbourne Cup competitors. The ceremony concluded with ARIA Award-winning artist Anthony Callea singing the national anthem.
In The Park Birds of Tokyo and Owl Eyes hit the stage in Flemington’s fashion, food and entertainment precinct, free for all racegoers. The chic and exclusive Birdcage hosted local and international stars including model Lady Kitty Spencer at Lexus, American actress Lindsay Lohan at Network 10, champion sprinter Usain Bolt at Mumm, Hollywood director Paul Feig at Kennedy, Geelong star forward Tom Hawkins at Furphy, models Jesinta Franklin and Gemma Ward at Bumble, and Owl Eyes also performed at 1 Oliver St.
The surprise appearance of Usain Bolt saw many guests swamp to witness the great athlete snap open a bottle of Mumm champagne and he enjoyed the comfort of the Maison Mumm marquee with his entourage including his good Australian friend John Stefferson. American actress Lindsay Lohan (she has been here in Australia for The Masked Singer TV show) popped into Maison Mumm but apparently she is not a champagne drinker, so she opted for a mixed drink.
Tabcorp usually hosts the sporty types – racing and football folk – but it was the turn of the politicians to enjoy the sumptuous food of Guy Grossi and co and the plethora of beverages. Guests included Bill Shorten, Martin Pakula, Paul Fletcher and Michael McCormack. Richmond premiership player Brandon Ellis was also enjoying himself. Furphy marquee was a lively atmosphere with the many clients of the company in attendance, as well as their ambassador Geelong footballer Tom Hawkins. Other guests enjoying the delicious food and Furphy beer were Jon Stevens and Heloise Pratt plus Heloise’s brother Anthony.
Bumble was bold and bright, as expected,, with boss Michelle Battersby leading the way with a pretty pink and red floral dress. Olympia Valance, accompanied by boyfriend Tom Bellchambers, stunned in a glorious pink and white design. Other Bumble guests included Brooke Hogan, the pregnant Jesinta Franklin, Lana Wilkinson and international model Gemma Ward. The food was highlighted by a dessert menu you could only dream of. Dishes included chocolate glitter coloured strawberries and strawberry and passion fruit marshmallows with a rose garnish.
Network 10 was also a busy marquee with many of their main presenters in attendance. Lindsay Lohan and her sister Ali joined in the festivities while The Project’s main team – Waleed Aly, Carrie Bickmore and Peter Helliar – enjoyed the hospitality, along with Tommy Little Mike Larkan, Georgia Love, Roz Kelly, Rob Mills, Sarah Harris, Joe Hildebrand, Dave Hughes, Khanh Ong, Diana Chan and Kate Peck.
The splendid Italian-designed Kennedy marquee was busy with the many friends and clients of hosts James and Jaimee Kennedy. DJ Claire Elliott provided some upbeat cool music and guests included Srecko Lorbek and wife Dr Chantel Thornton and American filmmaker Paul Feig.
At Myer Fashions on the Field, New Zealander Carena West took out the Women’s Racewear Daily Final in a self-made dress using vintage embroidered fabric, green Claire Hahn millinery. Carena will compete for the Victoria title and entry into the National Final on Kennedy Oaks Day.
South African Dan Ntumba won the Men’s Racewear Final wearing a navy blue Ken suit with striped trousers and Sergio Matteo maroon loafers. Jason Checuti won the Emerging Designer Award with his brand Checuti Couture. His winning outfit featured a floral rose haute couture dress with a draped rose inspired by Flemington, Billini shoes and clutch, and Checuti millinery.
Photos courtesy of Matt Deller and yours truly.
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