Lexus Melbourne Cup tours France
The iconic Lexus Melbourne Cup trophy has continued its global journey, venturing to Paris and Deauville as part of the 21st annual Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour.
As part of the international journey, the $600,000 trophy took in the sights of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Louis XIV Victory Monument and some of the French capital’s famous viennoiserie.
The Cup then ventured west to the seaside town of Deauville, where it attended the Arqana August yearling sale and the Barrière Deauville Meeting to watch the Prix Kergorlay, a Group 2 with a strong Melbourne Cup connection.
On Saturday at the yearling sales, the tour caught up with a number of key racing participants including dual Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Joseph O’Brien who reflected on his previous wins with Rekindling (2017) and Twilight Payment (2020).
“It was an incredible experience to be down there and I’m very lucky to have the association with Lloyd and Nick Williams who really guided me through the process of taking the horses down into quarantine and what’s needed to win the race and we’ve had an amazing few years taking our horses down there.” Mr O’Brien said.
O’Brien named four horses he is hoping will make the trip down under including Okita Soushi, Point King, Buckaroo and Valiant King, who ran second to current Cup favourite Vauban recently.
“The Melbourne Cup is such a special race, and it’s a race we like to compete in every year if we can and hopefully, we can do so this year again.” he said.
“Anybody who has been lucky enough to experience Cup Day understands the magnitude of the day and how special the race is and every time we’re there we pinch ourselves to be in Australia and Melbourne, competing in a race like that and hopefully we can be there again this year.”
At the race day, the Victoria Racing Club presented French thoroughbred breeder Michel Monfort, alongside two of his sons Maxine and Gauthier, with the Breeder’s Lexus Melbourne Cup Trophy for 2022 winner Gold Trip in the winner’s circle before the first race.
A prominent fixture on the French racing calendar, the meeting is highlighted by the Group 2 Prix Kergorlay, a race which has been won by Dunaden, Americain and Protectionist on their way to Melbourne Cup victories.
This year’s two-placegetters, Grand Alliance for trainer Charlie Fellowes and The Good Man, could both be heading toward the first Tuesday in November.
It would be French trainer Stephane Wattel’s first visit to Australia if he was to bring The Good Man.
“It is one of the most important races in the world...it would be a dream for all the partners, for the trainer, for everybody.” Mr Wattel said.
“If he stays in good form at this time of the year, if I see that things are possible, and it has been possible for French horses before, well why not!”
Melbourne Cup-winning French jockey Gérald Mossé spoke about his intention to return to Flemington for one final time before his impending retirement.
“It probably will be my last Melbourne Cup so I will do everything to be there...it probably will be the end of my career (at) the end of this season and start next season as a trainer,” he said.
Mossé reflected on his historic win in the 2010 Melbourne Cup aboard Americain who became the first French horse to win the race that stops a nation™.
“Definitely it was one of my greatest memories in horse racing to be able to win a race like that. The crowd, the atmosphere, everything was there on that day.”
“You don’t touch the ground, in one minute you go from jockey to rockstar, it’s amazing. The Australian people love that race and you can feel it.” Mossé said.
Fellow French horse, Dunaden went on to become the second French horse to win the Cup in 2011 with trainer Mikel Delzangles describing the emotions of winning the race. “To be honest I couldn’t see very well because it was so crowded and I thought I was beaten, everybody told me ‘oh so close’, ‘what a pity’ and when I arrived down at the yard there were so many people I couldn’t approach the horse!” Mr Delzangles said.
“When someone said to me ‘you’ve won, you’ve won’, it was amazing.”
Delzangles said he only realised how huge the win was the day after the race.
“The day after when you walk the streets of Melbourne people recognise you, that was something really special.”
There have been no French winners of the Lexus Melbourne Cup since Dunaden triumphed more than a decade ago.
“You need the right horse at the right moment, and I am still looking for another one,” Mr Delzangles said.
The Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour will continue its European journey this week visiting London before travelling to York for the Ebor Festival. The coveted trophy will watch the Ebor Handicap which is the only international race to offer automatic entry to the Lexus Melbourne Cup.