Magic of the Lexus Melbourne Cup celebrated in the heart of Melbourne City

6 November 2023 Written by VRC

Lexus Melbourne Cup eve celebrations have officially kicked off with the Victoria Racing Club showcasing the magic of the Melbourne Cup Carnival with a preview event hosted at the new live site Pétanque Social, on the Crown Riverwalk. 

The stars of the 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup were out in full force to celebrate with the public ahead of tomorrow’s Lexus Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington, with connections of all 24 runners joining in the festivities including leading trainers Gai Waterhouse AO and Ciaron Maher and jockeys Mark Zahra and Damien Oliver.

The $600,000, 18-carat gold Lexus Melbourne Cup trophy made a spectacular entrance following its four-month tour across Australia and the world, arriving at Pétanque Social on The Lady M Charter carried by VRC Chairman Neil Wilson alongside City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp. 

Mr Wilson said it was fantastic to mark Lexus Melbourne Cup eve at Pétanque Social, an innovation on the traditional CBD celebrations.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival draws thousands of visitors to our city from interstate and overseas every year, and it is great to celebrate this major Melbourne event in the city of Melbourne,” Mr Wilson said.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival is unique for the fact it showcases so many different elements that make Melbourne wonderful, from the sport of racing to fashion, hospitality and entertainment and the VRC is thrilled to be working with Crown to deliver a taste of those elements in the middle of the city, creating more opportunities across Cup Week for the public to experience the magic of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.”

Gai Waterhouse and her training partner Adrian Bott are represented by horses Military Mission and Serpentine in tomorrow’s great race, and Waterhouse said she was delighted to be part of the build up.

“That’s what's so good about the Lexus Melbourne Cup, you come up the river here on a beautiful boat and you get out and this magnificent trophy is presented by the Mayor of Melbourne,” Mrs Waterhouse said.

“It’s just taken so seriously and with such good reason. It’s literally the race that stops the nation and it does do that, as Damien (Oliver) and I both know. It’s just fabulous, it brings people together, which is so important.”

Ciaron Maher said last year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup winner Gold Trip is his top pick of the five runners he will saddle up with co-trainer David Eustace.

“I think Gold Trip is the best horse by a margin. I’m wrapped with him. He’s probably a little better than last year but he’ll need to be,” Mr Maher said

Other notable guests included Irish trainer Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci, prominent owner of current Lexus Melbourne Cup favourite Vauban, and leading international jockeys Hollie Doyle, Tom Marquand and Frankie Dettori. 

Mr Mullins said his runners including current favourite Vauban and Ebor Handicap winner Absurde were travelling well.

“My first time down here I was on a trip when Dermot Weld won with Vintage Crop and I was blown away with the Melbourne Cup, the carnival atmosphere and how it stops the nation as they say, and now here we are with two really good chances,” Mr Mullins said.

“I think this is possibly our best chance, this is the best team we’ve brought down.”

Mr Ricci said he was thrilled to be back in Melbourne and is confident that Vauban has what it takes to win Australia’s greatest race.

“I can’t believe it’s been six years since I was last year - being back is wonderful and we’re here to win this time I hope,” Mr Ricci said.

Husband wife duo Hollie Doyle and Tom Marquand stopped by the celebrations after arriving in Melbourne this morning directly from the Breeders Cup meeting in the United States. Hollie Doyle will be the first international female jockey outside of New Zealand to ride in the Lexus Melbourne Cup, she will ride Future History for Ciaron Maher and David Eustace.

“It’s awesome to be here, I have only been here an hour and I can already sense the atmosphere and the vibes.” Ms Doyle said.

“It stops the whole world really and it is right up there. It is one of the world’s biggest races and to be involved is an honour.”

Dettori said he was pleased to be back down under, and although not riding in this year’s ‘race that stops a nation’ ™ he is proud to be a part of the Melbourne Cup Carnival action off the track as a special guest on Network 10’s broadcast coverage.

“It is an amazing event. Over 100,000 people, people dress up and I have been lucky enough to have been in 18 Melbourne Cups,” Mr Dettori said.

“The atmosphere is electric, and I am looking forward to the race. I have a lot of jockeys that are my friends so I will be watching and supporting every one of them.”

Members of the public were invited to watch the formalities from the Crown riverwalk, meet some of the stars of racing and win general admission tickets to Lexus Melbourne Cup Day.  

Meanwhile, the equine stars of past editions of the Lexus Melbourne Cup put on their own show at Living Legends today. On the 20th anniversary of her first win in the Melbourne Cup, Makybe Diva headlined the ‘Parade of Champions’ which featured a further five past winners of the Lexus Melbourne Cup: Almandin, Brew, Efficient, Prince of Penzance and Twilight Payment. The six Melbourne Cup winners paraded for the public and were treated to a smorgasbord of carrots from their adoring fans.