Verry Elleegant wins the 161st Lexus Melbourne Cup
The quality rose to the top and the best of Australia and New Zealand combined in the 161st running of the Lexus Melbourne Cup to deliver one of the greatest wins in the race’s history as Verry Elleegant won the $8 million ‘race that stops a nation’™ at Flemington Racecourse in front of 10,000 spectators.
Verry Elleegant, trained and ridden by Australian-based Kiwi expatriates Chris Waller and James McDonald, came with a sweeping run to score by four lengths - a margin that can only be matched by 2014 hero Protectionist in the last 50 years.
In doing so, the champion mare joined Makybe Diva (2005) and Rain Lover (1969) as reigning Australian Champion Racehorses of the Year to take the Lexus Melbourne Cup. It was also her 10th Group 1 win.
Favourite Incentivise finished a gallant second, locking in the Lexus Melbourne Cup quinella for owners Brae Sokolski and Ozzie Kheir, with quality British raider Spanish Mission a further long neck away in third.
Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Chief Executive Officer Steve Rosich said it was a remarkable achievement from horse and connections.
“What an absolutely thrilling finish with champion mare Verry Elleegant securing her 10th Group 1 win with a stunning victory in the 161st running of the Lexus Melbourne Cup,” Mr Rosich said.
“Congratulations to master trainer Chris Waller, jockey James McDonald and all the owners, many of whom were on course today watching her make history.
“It was also an absolute privilege to see 10,000 people on track today to enjoy the day at Flemington and we are so grateful to have had crowds back for the race that stops a nation.”
Mr Rosich also congratulated the community of Bendigo/Fosterville, which was the winning Lexus Melbourne Cup National Sweep destination.
“The VRC is proud to present the community of Bendigo/Fosterville with $50,000 to put towards their chosen community charity, Sunshine Bendigo, which provides practical support to families in need,” Mr Rosich said.
Following Lexus Melbourne Cup Day, James McDonald leads the Ron Hutchison Award for jockeys during Melbourne Cup Carnival with 23 points, while Chris Waller leads the JB Cummings Award for trainers on 18 points.
The traditional pre-Lexus Melbourne Cup proceedings and entertainment captivated racegoers with VRC Ambassador and ARIA award winner and multi-platinum singer/songwriter Delta Goodrem performing a spectacular anthemic medley which started at Twin Hills Stud in NSW and concluded on The Garden Stage in Wildflower.
Following the performance, to recognise and honour the inspiring efforts of all frontline workers during the pandemic, paediatric nurse Angela Maxwell and aged care nurse Lisa Travis passed the 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup to the Chairman of the VRC Neil Wilson as he welcomed the Cup home to Flemington.
Moulin Rouge! The Musical star Des Flanagan then performed the Australian National Anthem live near the Mounting Yard.
The Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn Emerging Designer Award was hotly contested, with Bethany Cordwell from Brisbane crowned the winner with a head-turning dress and coordinating fascinator. Over 16,000 hand-tooled, teardrop-shaped “scales” were employed by Bethany to create the unique texture of her simple strapless style.
In the millinery stakes it was Belinda Osborne of Peacock Millinery in Darwin who took home the Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn Millinery Award with a statement-making sculptural design. Encircling the forehead, Belinda’s piece was created to resemble a beautiful cage – a comment on the feeling of confinement ubiquitously experienced this year. An oversized, upturned bow at the back of the head provides a focal point, its tail extending skyward to theatrical effect.
On the track, Myer Ambassador Kris Smith, Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassadors Christian Petracca and Diana Chan and Myer Fashions on Your Front Lawn Ambassadors Tayla Damir and Tim Kano enjoyed a day of celebrations in the Wildflower luxe pods. VRC Ambassadors Emma Booth and Amanda Ross also toasted to the Lexus Melbourne Cup spirit in the pink zone.
Off course, Lexus Melbourne Cup Day Ambassador and Olympian Ariarne Titmus watched the race from Brisbane surrounded by friends and family while Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassador and Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines enjoyed Cup Day at Morphettville where his horse, Sacred Armour placed second.