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Cambridge celebrates Melbourne Cup-winning heritage

Thirteen Melbourne Cup winners bred in the Cambridge area were honoured yesterday when the 2006 Emirates Melbourne Cup travelled to the Waikato for an unprecedented celebration of New Zealand's success in Australia's greatest sporting event.

The impressive line-up of Melbourne Cup-winning owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys and family members at Cambridge Stud yesterday.

At Cambridge Stud Sir Patrick & Justine, Lady Hogan hosted owners, breeders, studmasters, jockeys and trainers associated with 21 of the 41 New Zealand-bred horses that have won the Melbourne Cup since its inception in 1861. These included the 13 locally-bred winners listed on a Wall of Fame, unveiled in the town's main street by Waipa District Mayor Alan Livingston and Ron Taylor, who rode Polo Prince to victory in the 1964 Cup. The large number of people with genuine connections to Cup winners, and the display
Seven historic New Zealand-owned Melbourne Cups from Rising Fast (1954) to Ethereal (2001).
of seven historic trophies amazed Joe McGrath, the Victoria Racing Club's Marketing Manager – Events, enthralled guests and the public, and delighted Barry Lee, who received everyone's gratitude for his co-ordination of the event for the Club, the Stud, the District - and New Zealand.

Mr McGrath took the opportunity to present retrospective trainer's trophies to Trevor Knowles, who prepared Hi-Jinx to win the 1960 Centenary Melbourne Cup, and Lance Noble, whose uncle John Carter trained Polo Prince. Ron Taylor received a jockey's trophy.

The VRC and Emirates initiated the Melbourne Cup Tour in 2003 with a three-fold purpose: to take the Cup back to the people, to celebrate its heroes; and highlight its social and cultural significance. It's also part of a powerful promotional programme for the Spring Carnival, for Melbourne and for Australian business and trade.

Trevor Knowles, Ron Taylor & Lance Noble with their Melbourne Cup trainers' & jockey's trophies, and the VRC's Joe McGrath.

It's to be hoped that New Zealand's racing industry leaders begin to recognise what a valuable asset the sport's heritage can be when it is communicated with flair and passion, and managed professionally.

As Sir Patrick noted, yesterday's celebration simply would not have happened without Emirates and the VRC. They've done more in four years to highlight New Zealand's incomparable Melbourne Cup heritage than we've done in decades for ourselves. Maybe we can now expect their example to be picked up by our Racing Board or New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.Perhaps the best pleasure of the day was simply listening to people who have directly or indirectly been in one of the world's most sought-after winners' circles, for example:

  • Paul Moroney told of growing up with a picture of Hi-Jinx, bred by his grand-parents, on the wall, and how much it meant to win the 2000 Cup for his family. Looking at champion mare Horlicks, dam of Brew, he noted that she had indirectly been responsible for the biggest hangover of his life.
  • Roy Robinson confirmed the story of his brother Len spending the last two nights before the 1976 race in his car, armed with a shotgun, outside Van Der Hum's stall.
  • Helen Spring said her late husband, Leicester Spring proudly rated his magnificent 1954 Cup-winning champion Rising Fast alongside Phar Lap. (A review of Rising Fast's glorious sequence of victories that spring, never mind his second Caulfield Cup in 1955, and oh-so-brave attempt to win his second Melbourne Cup under 10 stone, places him in the highest rank of Australasian champions.)
  • Duncan Macky related how, as a toddler, he was discovered happily singing beneath the belly of his father Jack's champion sire Le Filou, sire of two Cup winners Light Fingers (1965) and Red Handed (1967).
The Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour, which began in Ireland on 16 September, continues in Christchurch today, and Dunedin tomorrow, then moves around Australia before returning to Melbourne for the week leading up to Cup Day on 7 November.

The seven Melbourne Cup trophies displayed at Cambridge Stud were:

  • Rising Fast (1954)
  • Silver Knight (1971)
  • Van Der Hum (1976)
  • Empire Rose (1988)
  • Jezabeel (1998)
  • Brew (2000)
  • Ethereal (2001)

The thirteen Cup winners on the Wall of Fame were all born around Cambridge, sired by stallions based there, and bred by people living in the area, with the exception of Brew's breeder Graham de Gruchy, who lives in Hawke's Bay. The list includes five of the seven Cup winners claimed byTrelawney Stud, and seven horses sired by Cambridge Stud stallions. A select group of four winners were also owned in the Waikato region: Van Der Hum, Empire Rose, Brew and Ethereal.

Melbourne Cup Winners bred in the
Cambridge area

Hiraji - 1947 G. Cobb
Foxzami - 1949 Neville Souter
Macdougal - 1959 Seton Otway
Galilee - 1966 Trelawney Stud
Silver Knight - 1971 Trelawney Stud
Van Der Hum - 1976 Mr & Mrs E.L. G. Abel
Gurner's Lane - 1982 Patrick Hogan
Kensei - 1987 Stuart Hale
Empire Rose - 1988 Whakanui Stud Ltd
Might And Power - 1997 Windsor Park Stud Ltd
Jezabeel - 1998 Jeanette Broome
Brew - 2000 Graham de Gruchy
Ethereal - 2001 Peter & Philip Vela

- Susan Archer


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