The 2020 Lexus Melbourne Cup made its first public appearance this weekend, visiting the fire ravaged community of Buchan in East Gippsland and attending the 133rd Buchan Cup.
The Buchan region was devastated by the January bushfires, including the town’s racetrack which sustained significant damage to the infield, running rail and winning post.
The rest of the club’s facilities were saved by Buchan & Gelantipy Race Club President Peter Sandy, who risked his own life to save the structures and has been working tirelessly to ensure the club could stage its once a year meet on Saturday.
Mr Sandy, who is also a clerk of the course at tracks around East Gippsland, said the race day was a step in the right direction and a fantastic day for the community.
“You put the events of the past behind you and keep looking forward. This is a great step into looking forward,” he said.
In a delight for organisers, a record crowd of more than 4000 people rolled up to see Tycoon Felix set a race record and take out the Buchan Cup for Gippsland-based trainer Sharyn Trolove.
The Lexus Melbourne Cup was on display throughout the day for locals to take photos with and share their racing stories with Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour Ambassadors and Melbourne Cup-winning jockey’s John Letts and Greg Hall, who joined the Cup on its journey.
VRC Chairman Amanda Elliott said the Club was delighted to take the 2020 Lexus Melbourne Cup to Buchan for their 133rd Cup Day weekend.
“The Lexus Melbourne Cup is the Cup of the people. It has united Australians for almost 160 years,” she said.
“The Victoria Racing Club was delighted to take the 2020 trophy to the community of Buchan, who have experienced such hardship recently, and have worked tirelessly to ensure that the Canni Creek Racecourse was ready for their 133rd Cup Day.
“Something that should make us all proud, and has shone through the bushfire devastation, is the fantastic spirit of Australians to come together and do what is necessary to help. We wish the race club all the very best and hope the visit by the Cup made a difference on the day.”
Racing Victoria CEO Giles Thompson and Minister for Racing Martin Pakula were also in attendance, with the State Government committing $25,000 towards the meeting from a new $150,000 Victorian Racing Industry Fund allocation for bushfire-affected clubs.
Horse equipment and supplies donated at Flemington's January and February racedays have also been donated to the equine community in and around Buchan.
The Melbourne Cup on tour, picture Karon Photography