Melbourne Cup fever arrived in the Hunter a little bit earlier in 2023.
With Flemington preparing to host the “race that stops a nation” on Tuesday 7 November, the pre-event tour featuring the $600,000, 18-carat trophy captivated locals at East Maitland and Newcastle this week.
And, the chance to see and hold the iconic silverware also stopped residents of Calvary St Joseph’s aged care home, at Sandgate, in their tracks.
“Not too many people can say they’ve held the Melbourne Cup,” said a delighted Anthea Fairley.
A once-a-year small-time punter like many Australians, Ms Fairley always watches the race and goes in sweeps at the Newcastle home.
Originally from country Victoria, she has a special fondness for the “the People’s Cup”.
So, Ms Fairley was thrilled to see it up close and touch it, while learning more about it from representatives of the Victoria Racing Club.
“I thought it was fantastic, it rekindled a lot of memories for a lot of people, and sparked deeper interest,” she said.
The visit was organised through a local bowling club and its president, Bill Hopkins OAM.
Now 86, but once a boy soprano, he has a long association with St Joseph’s and has fond memories of tagging along as a child with his father and parishioners, who helped to establish the initial home on the site and singing to the residents and the nuns “with the angel hats”.
The three-handled gold trophy is on its 2023 journey and will visit more than 40 destinations throughout Australia and overseas in the lead-up to the running of the 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November.
Since the tour’s inception in 2003, it has travelled more than 900,000 kilometres, visiting in excess of 590 destinations and engaged with tens of thousands of people – young and old.
For more community stories:
- Dylan Alcott to serve it up at Count Us In
- GALLERY: Record crowds at Hunter Homeless Connect Day
- New-look NW’s first birthday a time for celebration
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