Joe McGrath

published: 09 Sep 2014 in Q&A

This year the Melbourne Cup – now sponsored by Emirates – will be run for the 154th time at Flemington on November 4.

As a lead up to the event which, quite literally stops the nation, the Victoria Racing Club conducts its now traditional Melbourne Cup Tour.

During the tour, which will conclude at Flemington on Cup day, a total of 33 cities and towns in Australia and New Zealand will be visited as well as a number of overseas cities.

As the tour was proceeding Stallions questioned the tour’s manager Joe McGrath about the cities and towns on the itinerary, the seemingly ever-increasing interest in the Melbourne Cup, the personalities involved and other matters.


Q.: What time-span is this year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour covering

A.: We began the tour at Flemington racecourse on July 19 and then we headed to Western Australia. The tour will end at Flemington on November 4, which is Melbourne Cup day.


Q.: Was there a strong response from cities/towns applying to be included in the tour.

A.: The VRC had an extremely good response with over 70 applications from right around Australia and from New Zealand.


Q.: How are the cities/towns selected

A.: The tour destinations are selected through a tender process.


Q.: What impact does the Cup tour have on cities and towns

A.: The Emirates Melbourne Cup is truly an Australian icon and each year it is a pleasure to see how much the trophy uplifts community spirit and reignites the love of the race, which is event right around the country.


Q.: Has the tour visited the outback town of Birdsville previously

A.: Yes, the Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour has been to Birdsville twice previously the last occasion being in 2010.


Q.: Will the visit to Birdsville coincide with any special occasion

A.: The visit to Birdsville will be made three weeks prior to the iconic Birdsville Cup meeting, which this year is being held on September 5 and 6.


Q.: What other out-of-the-way towns will the tour be taking in

A.: On the leg of the Melbourne Cup tour which includes Birdsville we will be going to Charleville, which is also in outback Queensland. Interestingly Charleville is the birth-place of Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody.


Q.: Which overseas cities will the tour be going to

A.: The Cup was taken to Shanghai earlier in the year. A trip has been planned to York, in the United Kingdom, for a race meeting there where the breeder trophies for the northern hemisphere-bred Melbourne Cup winners Green Moon and Fiorente will be presented.


Q.: How are the overseas cities selected

A.: This is done in consultation with the Victorian Government on the basis of where we can leverage tourism opportunities as well as strengthening ties with international racing jurisdictions.


Q.: Have you noticed an increasing interest in the Melbourne Cup from overseas

A.: As an event, there are always increasing opportunities to leverage those continuously throughout the year. There are always new markets to be explored that can lead to people coming to Melbourne for Cup week. In terms of horses, there is ever-increasing number of owners/trainers from Europe, the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong all wishing to participate in the future.


Q.: Which personalities will be on the tour this year

A.: We have a long list of the regular past Melbourne Cup-winning talent being involved. Sadly, we lost Roy Higgins (winner of the 1965 and 1967 Melbourne Cups) in early March. He was a great contributor to the Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour and he is being missed.


Q.: Are you including any new “talent”

A.: Bryan Martin, who called 25 Melbourne Cups, was in attendance when we went on the first leg of the tour to Western Australia. Bryan will be involved in other activities in New South Wales in September. We are also planning to engage other personalities progressively as we go through the Melbourne Cup Tour.


Q.: Will you be taking part in the Cup tour

A.: Yes, I will be travelling with the tour. I went to Western Australia and I will be going to several cities in New Zealand. It is a pleasure, as always, to be directly involved with the tour because of the emotion about the Cup that you come to see.