Melbourne Cup Carnival delivers for the community

22 November 2023 Written by VRC

The Melbourne Cup Carnival is an incredible event, with more than a quarter of a million people coming together to celebrate the superlative achievements of our equine stars. It is even more amazing to see all of these people, united by a love for horses, deliver incredible results for the people in our community who need it most via the VRC’s charity partners.

Pin & Win is the hallmark charity initiative for the Melbourne Cup Carnival and this year’s campaign raised more than $548,000 for charity partner Australian Childhood Foundation, enabling them to protect children and restore childhood for those who have been impacted by trauma and family violence. Thanks to the funds raised via Pin & Win this year, more than 50 children and young adults will get the help they need to heal and, most importantly, to feel safe again.

This year’s Pin & Win results have eclipsed last year’s total of $493,000 and brings the total amount raised for Australian Childhood Foundation to more than $1 million over the last two years, making it one of the most successful fundraising initiatives in the history of the Foundation. Racegoers purchased more than 33,000 Lexus Melbourne Cup pins and 16,000 diamante horseshoe pins, with the lucky winner of the 2023 Lexus RX350H 2WD hailing from Queensland.

This is the fifth year of the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour National Sweep, an initiative that was introduced to connect the communities involved in the Tour with ‘the race that stops a nation’ ™, by allocating a starting gate to 24 communities. The town which draws the barrier of the Lexus Melbourne Cup-winning horse receives $50,000 to put towards a charity supporting a local community initiative. The victory of Without A Fight in this year’s Cup meant that Macedon was the lucky winner this year, earning $50,000 for their nominated charity Living Legends.

This year also saw the introduction of a collaboration with the Good Friday Appeal on Kennedy Oaks Day, which successfully changed the colour theme of the day to purple and promoted the great work performed by the club’s Flemington neighbour and community partner, The Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

Kennedy Oaks Day started with an uplifting Guard of Honour formed by racing participants for the arrival of patients from The Royal Children’s Hospital in the Flemington Mounting Yard. Lexus Melbourne Cup winning jockeys Mark Zahra and Craig Williams were joined by many of their peers, along with prominent trainers Peter Moody, Calvin and Tony McEvoy and Wendy Kelly to pay tribute to the life-saving work performed at The Royal Children’s Hospital and the tremendous fighting spirit of the kids who were special guests of the VRC. Group 1 winning jockey Harry Coffey spoke of his own experience as a past patient of The Royal Children’s Hospital and implored all racegoers to support the Appeal.

This collaboration also saw the introduction of a celebrity football match at Flemington on Tuesday 31 October, which is actually a reimagined version of the match that started the Good Friday Appeal 92 years ago. When the Children’s Hospital was at risk of closure in the early 1930s, a group of local journalists banded together to host a football match between jockeys from Flemington and Caulfield which raised £427 and saved the hospital. This year’s version featured 20 racing, sporting and media identities coming together to contest a shortened footy match to raise awareness and funds for the Good Friday Appeal; $7,000 was raised thanks to 3AW generously pledging to donate $500 per goal.

Cup Week concluded with TAB Champions Stakes Day on Saturday 11 November, coinciding with Remembrance Day. As such, the VRC is proud to have partnered with the Victorian Branch of the RSL. The day included a moving Remembrance Service in the Mounting Yard culminating with a minute of silence at 11am. More than $42,000 was raised for the RSL’s Poppy Appeal at Flemington via poppy lapel pin sales, with the poppy replacing the traditional red rose as the official flower for the race day and all proceeds going towards the RSL to provide life-changing support for our veterans and their families. Free racecourse entry on TAB Champions Stakes Day was provided by the VRC for all past and current service men and women.

The VRC is proud to support the National Jockeys Trust (NJT) by donating $1,000 for every jockey who participated in the Cup Eve preview event hosted at the new live site Pétanque Social, on the Crown Riverwalk this year. By participating in the event, the jockeys of this year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup raised $12,000 for the NJT which will help support injured and ill jockeys and their families.

The VRC has also auctioned off the saddlecloths from the four feature races, signed by the jockeys, to raise funds for the Victorian Jockeys Association (VJA) to support jockeys in need via the VJA emergency fund. Also on offer was the set of breeches Damien Oliver wore in his final ride in the Melbourne Cup, kindly signed and donated by Damien.

The donation of floral arrangements from the Melbourne Cup Carnival to the Royal Melbourne Hospital ensured that the joy of Cup Week was extended to patients there, while the VRC is also partnering with Cirka and Superyard on an innovative new initiative this year to redistribute reusable materials from temporary event structures to community organisations across Melbourne and the wider Victorian region.

The Lexus Melbourne Cup is the People’s Cup and as its custodians, the VRC is extremely proud to be giving back to the community in so many ways. The team is thrilled by this year’s results and already planning on ways to grow our impact next year.