MERBEIN’S Kenny Park played host the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour last Saturday, when the famous racing trophy was put on display for all at the oval to see up-close.

Merbein Art Group member John Fumberger, whose role was pivotal to the cup coming to the region, said it was fantastic to have the Cup in Merbein.

“I had read in the Herald Sun newspaper how they undertake the tour to communities and I thought well we should be bold enough to put our hand up to see if it could come to Merbein, thinking that it may or may not happen and it did,” Mr Fumberger said.

Victoria Racing Club Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour manager Joe McGrath brought the 18 carat gold trophy from VRC headquarters to Kenny Park for the occasion

“It’s great to be in Merbein. We were supposed to be here last year as part of the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour, but those plans were unfortunately curtailed due to COVID restrictions,” Mr McGrath said.

“And so we said that if you would like us to come in 2022 we would happily do so and today’s the day.”

Mr Fumberger said it had been a pleasure dealing with Mr McGrath “who has been on the other end organising this visit”.

“We had everything totally organised for the visit to take place in October last year and on the eve of the day they were supposed to come to Merbein, a snap lockdown came into force and we had to call the whole thing off,” he said.

“We had all been to a lot of effort in organising things but we just had to take it on the chin and get on with things and then Joe contacted us again and said that we could have the tour visit at any time and here we are today.

“It’s a much more scaled down version of the normal tour events but it is great to hold it at Kenny Park while the football is being played and there is a great crowd here today to be able to see the cup up close – it’s really wonderful for the community.”

The Cup Tour began in 2003 and is chalking up its 20th year.

“It started back in 2003 and I was on the very first leg of that tour and it has been a great initiative in taking what is one of the most famous sporting trophies in the world out into a host of communities,” Mr McGrath said.

“Success has many fathers. It was an initiative from a public relations agency, who put the concept to us – the VRC − and they thought it had merit and we took it out on the road and the response was enormous.

“Then the following year we introduced a tender process, whereby community organisations had the opportunity to tender a submission and based on the strength of those we chose 35 destinations and Merbein was one of them.

“We have a number of people from the VRC who work on the event and we have a number of ambassadors who get involved and share their story. It might be a passed jockey or a trainer and we will bring them on the road for some of our events.

“It’s about story-telling and connecting with the community and supporting local community initiatives. The Merbein Art Group is who we are supporting in this instance and they put forward a strong submission.”

Mr McGrath explained the Melbourne Cup is made in Sydney by ABC Bullion.

“ABC Bullion was appointed to manufacture the Melbourne Cup trophy from 2016 and onwards,” he said.

“It is made from 18-carat gold and weighs 1.65kg which sits on a Jarrah timber plinth and it is valued at $275,000.

“The gold for this year’s cup came from Evolution Mining which is located near Cowal in New South Wales.

“The VRC commissions ABC to produce the cup which we take possession one year and one week out from the running of the Melbourne Cup.”

– By JOHN DOOLEY