The Lexus Melbourne Cup touches down in Tokyo

5 June 2024 Written by VRC

The 22nd edition of the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour has officially kicked off in Japan, with the iconic trophy starring at an exclusive event at Intersect by Lexus, nestled in the center of Aoyama, a neighborhood renowned for its pioneering design, fashion and culinary scene.

VIP guests including Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Chairman Neil Wilson, Lexus Australia General Manager Yolande Waldock, Vogue Australia’s Digital Director Francesca Wallace and French-born Lexus Melbourne Cup winning jockey Christophe Lemaire came together last night to celebrate the Cup Tour’s first stop of 2024.

Mr Wilson said it was great to commence the five-month Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour in Tokyo.

“The Lexus Melbourne Cup is the 18-carat jewel in the crown of Melbourne Cup Week and sharing the iconic trophy with people worldwide, including celebrating the first Cup Tour visit for 2024 in the home of our Principal Partner, Lexus, is most appropriate given our 22-year partnership.” 

“The positive reception the Lexus Melbourne Cup trophy has received in Japan highlights the international appeal of the race that stops a nation and increasingly, the world.

“We look forward to the next 38 destinations, including the next stop in New York.”

Lexus Australia Chief Executive John Pappas said Lexus was delighted to host the Cup Tour in its design home.

“Intersect by Lexus exudes the innovation and craftsmanship that drives Lexus design,” Mr Pappas said.

“We were delighted to host guests and share our traditional Japanese omotenashi hospitality on what was a very proud occasion for everyone at Lexus”

French jockey Christophe Lemaire, who won the 2011 Lexus Melbourne Cup aboard Dunaden in a heart-stopping photo-finish, attended the event and reflected on the race’s significance.

“It was my first trip to Australia and of course I knew about the Melbourne Cup, but I didn’t know it would have been so big and so huge to be the winner of the Melbourne Cup,” Mr Lemaire said.

“I heard about the atmosphere and everything but when I witnessed it, it was really different to what I thought before riding in the Melbourne Cup. I went to different countries and big races all around the world, but the Melbourne Cup was really special because Gérald Mossé, another French jockey won the previous year.”

Mr Lemaire has enjoyed immense success since calling Japan home and has been crowned Japan’s leading jockey six-times and is best known for his association with two world champions of the turf, Almond Eye and Equinox.

The VRC also announced that this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival Emerging Designer Award will be staged in association with Vogue Australia and will include a once-in-a-lifetime immersive design experience in Japan.

The Emerging Designer Award presented by Vogue is designed to celebrate the creativity and innovation of new designers and nurture emerging talent in the fashion industry.

“The Melbourne Cup Carnival is synonymous with fashion, and we’re delighted to enhance the Victoria Racing Club’s partnership with Vogue and offer one incredibly lucky up and coming designer a trip to Japan,” Mr Wilson said.

“Japan is renowned for its cutting-edge design, so it is the perfect place for the winner of the Emerging Designer Award presented by Vogue to hone their craft.”

Vogue Australia’s Digital Director Francesca Wallace said they were delighted to partner with the VRC and the prestigious Melbourne Cup Carnival Fashions on the Field competition.

“This evolution of the Emerging Designer Award presented by Vogue will encourage and celebrate new talent,” Ms Wallace said.

“It provides a platform for aspiring designers to express their creativity on the world stage, and the immersive design experience in Japan, designed by Vogue Australia, is a fitting and unrivalled prize.

“I encourage anyone who wants a career in design to apply, and anyone who loves fashion to start planning their trip to the 2024 Melbourne Cup Carnival.”

As part of the Cup’s first overseas journey for 2024, it also visited Tokyo Racecourse for the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen meeting on Sunday and caught up with 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup winning jockey James McDonald.

In only his second visit to Japan, Mr McDonald extended his uncatchable lead in the world’s best jockey rankings winning his 98th Group 1 aboard Cox Plate champion Romantic Warrior in the Group 1 Yasuda Kinen.

“It was very, very special, there are no words for it, he (Romantic Warrier) keeps delivering every time,” Mr McDonald said.

“To win such a prestigious race away from home is so special. The reception we received after the race was something that only one particular race in Australia (Lexus Melbourne Cup) can match.”

This year's Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour will visit Mr McDonald’s hometown of Cambridge in New Zealand.

“I remember when I was at Cambridge Highschool when the Cup means so much to everyone and it builds the greatest hype around that great race.”

The tour also visited one of Japan’s most renowned racing regions in Hokkaido which included visits to Northern Farm, Shadai Farm and Okada Stud.

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.