Melbourne Cup Carnival showcases world-class racing in a year like no other
Australia’s premier racing event the Melbourne Cup Carnival has delivered an exciting week of world-class racing, fashion and entertainment in a year to be remembered.
Against the backdrop of a pandemic that saw the ‘race that stops a nation’™ run on a course without crowds for the first time in its 160-year history, exceptional racing took centre-stage.
It was a year for the history books with a fairytale win in the AAMI Victoria Derby for new trainer Denis Pagan before young jockey Jye McNeil won the Lexus Melbourne Cup and Damien Oliver edged closer to breaking another record with his sixth win in the Kennedy Oaks, while Arcadia Queen returns to her home state of Western Australia with another Group 1 win to her name after triumphing in the Seppelt Wines Mackinnon Stakes.
AFL dual-premiership winning coach turned racehorse trainer Denis Pagan saw his first win as a trainer with the $2 million Group 1 AAMI Victoria Derby with Johnny Get Angry, ridden by apprentice jockey Lachlan King, who has partnered with Johnny Get Angry in all seven of his starts. Pagan is also the sole owner of Johnny Get Angry.
160th running of the Cup
Ireland’s Twilight Payment became just the second horse after Might and Power to lead our great race from start to finish for an historic victory in the 160th running of the Lexus Melbourne Cup. The win was the second triumph for Joseph O’Brien, who won his first Cup with Rekindling in 2017, while 25-year-old jockey Jye McNeil secured his first win from his first ride in the Cup.
Kangaroo Island had another reason to smile when Twilight Payment passed the post first, winning $50,000 in the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour National Sweep, which was matched by the owners of Twilight Payment. The bushfire-hit community has chosen the Royal Flying Doctor Service as the worthy recipients of the $100,000 prize.
Champion jockey Damien Oliver recorded a remarkable sixth victory in the Kennedy Oaks aboard Personal, who won the $1 million staying classic for three-year-old fillies. Oliver now stands just one Group 1 win off equalling Bobby Lewis’ record of 23 Group 1 wins over Cup Week.
The Melbourne Cup Carnival concluded with today’s Seppelt Wines Stakes Day, which saw Arcadia Queen take out the $2 million feature race of the day, the Group 1 Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes.
The Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) provided an emotional win for Grant Williams, co-trainer of wonderful mare Arcadia Queen who will return to her home state of Western Australia for a break after winning her second Group 1 this spring.
Globetrotting mare True Self won the Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2600m) for the second year in a row and took home a $200,000 bonus after being balloted from the Lexus Melbourne Cup.
Bivouac confirmed his status as one of the nation’s best sprinters with a brilliant performance in the Group 1 Darley Sprint Classic (1200m). Champion jockey Glen Boss was in the saddle as Bivouac defeated Nature Strip and Libertini to take his earnings past $5 million.
Throughout the Carnival 441 horses competed in 37 races, representing an average field size of 11.9 runners. The four race cards, offering nearly $24 million in prize money, saw 25 individual trainer and 19 jockeys enjoy victory.
JB Cummings Excellence Award
The JB Cummings Excellence Award went to Flemington trainers Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig for their outstanding Melbourne Cup Carnival achievements, and the Ron Hutchinson Excellence Award was a tie between jockeys Hugh Bowman and Damien Oliver.
Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Chief Executive Officer Neil Wilson said racing had been the centrepiece in a Melbourne Cup Carnival like no other.
“We saw impressive fields across the week, and some true champions emerge,” Mr Wilson said.
“With this year’s Carnival being closed to crowds, we were inspired to create a memorable at-home experience for our members, owners and racing fans, no matter where they were watching.
“Special appearances and performances by some of Australia’s greatest artists including Kylie Minogue, Delta Goodrem, Jon Stevens, Illy, Pete Murray and The Rubens brought the buzz of Flemington to every viewer, while our CupWeek2020.com.au website brought the Carnival’s top attractions to life including the world-class racing, entertainment, fashion, food and wine with which Cup Week is synonymous.”
The VRC strengthened its commitment to the community with the launch of the Melbourne Cup Foundation on the eve of this year’s Cup, underpinned by three core pillars representing the three handles of the Cup trophy; Honouring the Past, Enhancing the Present and Shaping the Future.
Coverage of the Lexus Melbourne Cup took on an even greater significance as racing fans flocked to bars, restaurants and parks across Australia to watch the great race.
Network 10’s live coverage of the Lexus Melbourne Cup reached 3.04 million nationally, plus 683,000 live streams, a 38 per cent increase on 2019.
“It has been an incredibly challenging year for all of us, and we are so grateful to our broadcast partner Network 10, our principal partner Lexus, and major partners AAMI, Kennedy, Seppelt, Myer and Furphy for their ongoing support,” Mr Wilson said.
“The Melbourne Cup Carnival is Australia’s original major event, and it is only with the support of our valued partners, owners, members and all racing participants that we have been able to share it with Australia and the world.”
Flemington Racecourse looked spectacular for the broadcast, with the track in peak condition and the famous roses in full bloom.
The VRC’s gardeners have started to cut bouquets of the roses, which are being distributed, with the support of Rotary Flemington, to say a very special thank you to frontline workers and local community organisations.
Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn
Myer Fashions on the Field became Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn, an all-online competition for the first time ever.
The Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn National Final culminated on Kennedy Oaks Day with the Northern Territory claiming the quinella, taking out both the Men’s and Women’s National Final.
It is the first year the VRC and Myer have opened up the national competition to be held in the Northern Territory.
Christine Spielmann won the women’s competition wearing a self-designed and self-made purple pant suit and belt with a wide-brimmed hat.
Sherlon Garbo took out the first ever men’s national competition wearing a three-piece suit with striking colorful accessories.
Both Christine and Sherlon will receive more than $80,000 in prizes each including a brand new Lexus UX250h 2WD Sports Luxury valued at $70,070, a money can’t buy 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival experience, a Myer gift card, TCL Entertainment package and Antler Luggage voucher.
Today the winners of the new Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn Just for Fun categories were announced today following the popular digital competition that ran across Cup Week.
The Family Ties category was won by the Mallyon Family from the Gold Coast who dressed up to celebrate the Melbourne Cup Carnival at their property with their pony and puppy joining in the family fun.
The Cup Week Costumes category was won by canine fashionistas, golden retrievers Cully Bear and Mimi from Melbourne who were dressed up in pink for a day at the races.
Nicole Snaith from Sydney took out the Lounge in Style category with a photo of her celebrating Kennedy Oaks Day from her lounge room at home in hat, dress and sneakers.
The Mad Hatter category invited entrants to have some DIY fun with headwear and winner Bec Meppen from Darling Downs created a lockdown inspired hat based on the famous Arnott’s Shapes.
The Just for Fun category winners share a prize pool worth more than $40,000 with prizes including TCL entertainment packages, Antler Luggage and Myer gift cards.
Pin & Win – in support of Very Special Kids – offered more than $140,000 in prizes, including a 2020 Lexus NX 300 AWD F Sport. This year marks the 26th year of Pin & Win, with all proceeds supporting an upgrade of Very Special Kids’ children’s hospice at Malvern where it cares for children with life-threatening conditions and provides much-needed family support services. The winners will be announced on Monday.
The 2020 Melbourne Cup Carnival also marked the last Carnival to be presided over by Chairman Amanda Elliott, with the Board honouring the outgoing Chairman for her more than 18 years of service to the VRC with a race in her honour, the Listed Amanda Elliott.