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Racing Stars and Scholars to Lift the Lid on Melbourne Cup Magic

17 AUGUST 2010


The 150th anniversary celebrations for 'the race that stops the nation' TM will arrive in Canberra on Friday, 13 August, for a public Symposium at the National Museum of Australia (NMA), entitled The Heart of Australian Racing: The Melbourne Cup.

Hosted by the National Museum of Australia in conjunction with the Victoria Racing Club (VRC), the Symposium will assemble some of the country's most well-known and respected racing identities, heroes, historians and public thinkers to discuss, debate and celebrate the allure of the Emirates Melbourne Cup on both the national and international stage.

Reflective of the impact of the Melbourne Cup across all facets of Australian life, including politics and business, the Symposium will feature a headline address from former Liberal politician, leader of the Opposition Party and respected businessman, The Hon Andrew Peacock, AC, GCL.

"This symposium will showcase the immense impact of the Melbourne Cup on Australia's culture and psyche," Mr Peacock said.

"It is a pleasure to be involved to discuss one of my true passions in life – racing and the Melbourne Cup," Mr Peacock added.

Andrew Peacock, as owner, came all so close in 1974 when his mare Leilani – a much loved racemare of her era – finished second to stable-mate Think Big in the Melbourne Cup.

Other racing purists on hand to share their personal memories and experiences will include Melbourne Cup winning owners Wendy Green (Rogan Josh, 1999) and Sheila Laxon (Ethereal, 2001); dual Melbourne Cup winning jockey, John Letts (Piping Lane, 1972 and Beldale Ball, 1980); Mark de Mestre, grandson of the first Melbourne Cup-winning owner and trainer, Etienne de Mestre and Australian Racing Hall of Fame Chairman, Bryan Martin.

The iconic 18-carat gold Emirates Melbourne Cup trophy, valued in excess of $150,000, will also feature at the exclusive event.

"The Melbourne Cup has enjoyed a rich and vibrant history and we thought it only fitting that in this, its milestone 150th year, we look back at the influence this great race has had on Australia's sporting, social and cultural heritage as well as our national identity," said VRC Chairman, Rod Fitzroy.

"Bringing together the opinions and contributions of people who have researched and studied the legacy of the Melbourne Cup, as well as those who have lived and breathed the race, the Symposium will offer a rare insight into not just why, but how, the Cup has had such an impact on the Australian way of life," Mr Fitzroy said.

A highlight of the Symposium is expected to be a panel discussion featuring Bob Charley, former Chairman of the Australian Jockey Club and Australian Racing Board; Fiona Caruthers from the Australian Financial Review; and Geoff Slattery, publisher of commemorative Melbourne Cup book, The Story of the Melbourne Cup: Australia's Greatest Race, which will examine how important chance and pure luck is to racing success.

To reflect on the Melbourne Cup's influence in shaping Australia's culture, academic Chris McConville; VRC Chairman Rod Fitzroy; VRC historian Andrew Lemon; and journalist and media personality John Harms, will also take to the stage to discuss why the event has endured such grand success over the past 149 years.

"The Heart of Australian Racing: The Melbourne Cup" is not only a celebration of the 'race that stops the nation'TM, but a chance to peel back the layers and explore the underlying ideas, people and passion it represents," said Andrew Sayers, Director of the National Museum of Australia and event co-host.

The Royal Australian Mint will also take part in the day's proceedings by launching a commemorative 150th Melbourne Cup coin.

The Heart of Australian Racing: The Melbourne Cup Symposium is being held in Canberra as part of the celebrations for the 150th Melbourne Cup year. It will showcase the 2010 Emirates Melbourne Cup Trophy which is currently on a 220 day world tour taking in 40 destinations across the world. The Australasian component of the tour commenced on Monday, 2nd August in Sale.

To celebrate the 150th milestone year, the 2010 Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour will visit destinations that are intrinsically linked to the Cup's rich history, alongside towns and cities that are iconically Australian.

For more information on The Heart of Australian Racing: The Melbourne Cup Symposium and the schedule of events planned to commemorate the 150th Melbourne Cup please visit: http://www.melbournecup.com/150_Melbourne_Cup

For all media enquiries, please contact Wrights PR on behalf of the VRC 03 9690 9911:

Leah Grant, Wrights PR, 0418 406 037 / lgrant@wrights.com.au
Lauren Zammit, Wrights PR, 0414 655 142 / lzammit@wrights.com.au