VRC Chief Executive Simon Love declared the 2015 Melbourne Cup Carnival a success and said it will be remembered for the composed performance of jockey Michelle Payne—in the saddle and then in front of the cameras.
“Michelle’s remarkable Emirates Melbourne Cup victory has made history and headlines around the world. We hope that her determination will encourage further female participation and provide countless new opportunities for women in racing,” Mr Love said.
Payne’s trailblazing Emirates Melbourne Cup victory sealed a fairy tale ending, becoming the first female jockey to win the race that stops a nation. Starting at the long odds of $101 with the TAB—and trained in country Victoria and ridden by a jockey struggling to pick up regular rides—Prince of Penzance’s win against arguably the strongest field ever assembled epitomises the egalitarian history of the Cup.
“I just hope it’s a reminder that if you work hard and you dream, things can happen,” Payne said after her historic win for trainer Darren Weir. “And I really want to say to all the young children and people growing up with dreams, ‘you’ve got to believe in yourself’ and for some reason I always have had great belief in myself. I don’t know why but I always thought I was going to be a good jockey and one day win the Melbourne Cup.”
Prophetically, strapper Stevie Payne successfully predicted he would snare barrier 1 at last Saturday’s barrier draw for his sister Michelle. The Cup-winning jockey said the spotlight on her brother’s career success has challenged the stigma surrounding people with Down Syndrome.
The memorable Melbourne Cup Carnival came to a close with Saturday’s Emirates Stakes Day. A strong crowd of 68,711 witnessed Kerrin McEvoy ride the Murray Baker trained Turn Me Loose to take out the feature race of the day.
Delectation, for trainer Chris Waller and jockey James McDonald, staked a claim for title of world’s best sprinter, winning the highly anticipated Darley Classic.
Throughout the Carnival, 481 horses competed in 37 races, representing an average field size of 13.0 runners. The four race cards, offering more than $17 million in prize money, saw 23 individual trainers enjoy victory, and 15 internationally trained horses compete.
The newly named J.B. Cummings Excellence Award went to Darren Weir for his outstanding Melbourne Cup Carnival achievements, and the Ron Hutchinson Excellence Award was won by jockey James McDonald.
On Crown Oaks Day, the curtain closed on the 36-year riding career of 52-year-old Jim Cassidy, who was presented with 1983 and 1997 vintages of Penfolds Grange by VRC Chairman Michael Burn, representing the years of his Melbourne Cup wins on Kiwi and Might and Power.
Broadcast history was made with Channel 7’s online streaming service PLUS7 recording the largest ever live streamed event in Australia. Seven’s live coverage of the Emirates Melbourne Cup reached 4.4 million viewers around the country, while 342,000 viewers streamed the main race online.
Despite thunderstorms on AAMI Victoria Derby Day and Crown Oaks Day, 313,229 local, interstate and international visitors flocked to the festivities to enjoy the racing, fashion, entertainment and hospitality of the world’s most vibrant racing event.
“Despite some extreme, unseasonal weather and over 52mm of rain, the four Melbourne Cup Carnival racedays were again the four most attended in the country,” Mr Love said.
Remarkably, 150 Kiwi guests flew to Melbourne aboard Invercargill’s maiden international flight, chartered specifically for a day trip to Emirates Melbourne Cup Day.
Four cruise ships—the most ever docked in Melbourne at one time—delivered 8000 visitors to the Cup, highlighted by Pacific Dawn’s historic passing under Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge. Measuring 47.6 metres in height, the cruise ship cleared the bridge with just 2.5 metres to spare.
“The Melbourne Cup Carnival was again a resounding tourism success story. This is Australia’s original major event, and it contributes to the economy like no other,” Mr Love aid.
The Birdcage Enclosure again played host to international and local celebrities including Lady Kitty Spencer, Cody Simpson and Stephen Jones OBE at Emirates; David Guetta and Brody Jenner at Maison Mumm; Didier Cohen and Rebecca Judd at Lavazza; Kevin Dillon and Hilary Swank at Swisse; and Jennifer Hawkins and Kris Smith at Myer.
Myer Fashions on the Field saw 821 stylishly dressed entrants compete for over $400,000 in prizes, while more than 400 children and families participated in Emirates Stakes Day Fashions on the Field.
Melbourne’s Emily Hunter, 28, won the Myer Fashions on the Filed National Women’s Racewear competition in a navy cloque spot jacquard dress, which was crafted by her mother in just two days. The full skirted dress, lined in hot pink, was paired with a pink, navy and yellow lace and leather headpiece by Lisa Schaefer and bright yellow Kurt Geiger pumps.
The Arrowsmith family—parents Dustin and Christie with children Milo, 4, and Clementine, 1—from Chelsea won the family category in coordinated navy, purple and white outfits. The Junior categories were taken out by Imogen Christian, 6, from Moonee Ponds and Tommy Gielen, 5, from Mount Eliza, while Senior honours went to Hana Singtong, 15, from South Yarra and Texas Watterson,13, from Hughesdale.
Pin & Win—in support of the Starlight Children’s Foundation—offered more than $136,000 of prizes, including a Lexus NX 200t F Sport and one million Skyward Miles from Emirates. While counting continues, Starlight confirmed that over $320,000 has been raised through Pin & Win to brighten the lives of seriously ill children.