People’s Cup kicks off the first Australian leg in Cowes Victoria

1 July 2024 Written by VRC

Cowes in Victoria has officially hosted the first Australian leg of the 22nd Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour with the $750,000 18-carat-gold trophy making the journey to help raise funds for two local equestrian siblings.

Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour Ambassador and legendary track rider for twelve-time Melbourne Cup winning trainer Bart Cummings, Joe Agresta accompanied the iconic trophy on its tour of Cowes starting at Cowes Primary School with a special Lexus Melbourne Cup themed assembly. Students gathered to learn about the “race that stops a nation”™ before having the once-in-a-life-time opportunity to get up close and experience the magic of the People’s Cup.

The tour then stopped into Newhaven College where local Mounted Games riders showcased their epic riding skills as they manoeuvred around the Lexus Melbourne Cup trophy. Among the riders, young equestrian siblings Gabe (18) and Gisele Smith (14) who are travelling to Europe next month to compete in the Mounted Games World Championships. They have each held Australian Championships in their respective age groups.

Local Cowes Primary School teacher Natasha Robinson, who successfully applied to host the tour to help raise $42,000 to fund the World Mounted Games Championships campaign of her two children Gabe and Gisele, said it was a great experience for the entire community of Cowes.

“We are so excited to be part the tour and what a fitting way to celebrate equestrian sports with the Lexus Melbourne Cup trophy. The community has had an amazing day so hopefully we have raised enough through our events today and the Go Fund Me page as it would mean the world to help them achieve their dream!” Mrs Robinson said.

In the afternoon, the Lexus Melbourne Cup attended a community event at the Phillip Island RSL with local members before catching up with Australian big wave surfer and Phillip Island local Ross Clarke-Jones.

To conclude, the coveted trophy attended a Sportsman’s night hosted by Equestrian Olympian and Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Ambassador Amanda Ross at the San Remo Hotel Motel. Ms Ross conducted a Q&A with Gabe and Gisele to discuss their equestrian dreams before Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour Ambassador Joe Agresta took to the stage to discuss his favourite Lexus Melbourne Cup memories.

Cowes will be part of the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour National Sweep, an important VRC charity initiative which see’s 24 rural and regional towns allocated a barrier and the correlating runner in the 2024 Lexus Melbourne Cup.

Two representatives from each of the 24 destinations will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Flemington, courtesy of the VRC, to watch the Lexus Melbourne Cup and cheer home their horse. The town with the winning horse will be presented with $50,000 to put towards a charity of their choice.

Next, the People’s Cup will make the journey across the Tasman Sea to start its tour of Auckland and Cambridge in New Zealand where it will catch up with several key racing participants as well as attend the NRL Warriors game. Three-time Lexus Melbourne Cup winning jockey Damien Oliver will accompany the cup.

This year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour will see the iconic trophy travel to 39 destinations, with the final route spanning six countries including Australia, Japan, USA, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Ireland.

Since its inaugural journey in 2003, the tour has travelled over one million kilometres, visiting more than 640 destinations to unite communities and provide a once-in-life-time opportunity to get up close and experience the magic of the People’s Cup. This includes visiting 482 schools, 401 hospitals and aged care facilities, participating in over 2100 community events and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for local fundraising initiatives.

For further information about the 2024 Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour please visit

  @MelbourneCup @LexusAustralia #MelbourneCup #PeoplesCup

Background on Mounted Games:

  • Mounted Games are a series of very fast races, exciting for participants and spectators alike, performed by people on ponies.
  • They require a high degree of athletic ability, good riding skills, hand-to-eye coordination, general determination to see things through to the end no matter what, and a competitive spirit which nevertheless requires an ability to work together with other riders and to be willing to help one another.
  • Mounted Games were the inspiration of H.R.H. Prince Philip. When Col. Sir Mike Ansell was Director of the Horse of the Year Show, Prince Philip asked if he could devise a competition for children who could not afford an expensive, well-bred pony, and in 1957 the Horse of the Year Show, then at Harringay Arena, staged the first Mounted Games Championship for the Prince Philip Cup – it was an immediate success.
  • The popularity of the games spread right across the world and led to the formation of the International Mounted Games Association (IMGA). The Australian Mounted Games Association was formed in 2004 and it, along with approximately 24 other countries, is affiliated with IMGA. The object of the Association is “To encourage friendship between young people of different nations”. Several times a year, riders from AMGA compete abroad and these trips provide an exciting experience for many members of the Association.
  • Go Fund Me: Fundraiser by Natasha Robinson : Let’s Get Gabe & Gisele to The World Championships (