The world’s most iconic racing trophy found new admirers this week as Japanese Sumo wrestlers, geishas and Harajuku girls all held the Emirates Melbourne Cup as it toured the land of the rising sun.
The famous three-handled trophy, valued at $175,000, was the celebrity envoy on the Victoria Racing Club’s Japan visit, aimed at increasing tourism to the Melbourne Cup Carnival and furthering Japan’s horse participation across the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Hosted by VRC Director Neil Wilson, the Club held a trackside event at Tokyo Racecourse attended by tourism and racing officials, diplomats, and leading horse owners and breeders, including Katsumi Yoshida and his brother Teruya Yoshida, for the running of the inaugural Victoria Racing Club Trophy.
Speaking at the event, Wilson welcomed the news that leading Japanese horses are expected at the Melbourne Cup Carnival, including Katsumi Yoshida’s Fame Game.
“We are delighted to hear that Katsumi Yoshida will continue to target his thoroughbreds at the 2015 Emirates Melbourne Cup,” Mr Wilson said.
“The ongoing support of the Japan Racing Association and Japanese horse owners is continuing to leverage our respective international racing events, while building tourism to Australia and the love of the Melbourne Cup Carnival globally.”
Wilson presented the Victoria Racing Club Trophy to the winning connections of Shinzen Ranger.
The 18-carat solid gold Cup continued its Japanese tour at Yoshida’s impressive Northern Farm in Hokkaido, taking in trackwork, inspecting foals and visiting 2006 Emirates Melbourne Cup winner and current day showjumper, Delta Blues. The 15-year-old gelding, who scored a memorable win over compatriot Pop Rock, posed for photos with the 2015 Emirates Melbourne Cup as well as his own 2006 trophy. The tour of the expansive property included visits to Crown Oaks and Australian Guineas winner Mosheen and Caulfield Cup champ Southern Speed, now both broodmares.
The group also visited the Yoshida family owned Shadai Stallion Station, the home of star stallions Deep Impact, Orfevre, Lord Kanaloa and Heart’s Cry—the latter the sire of 2015 Emirates Melbourne Cup hopeful, Fame Game.
An exclusive millinery workshop hosted by Myer milliner Kim Fletcher was held for Japanese media and VIPs at Tokyo’s Palace Hotel to highlight the importance of fashion to the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
The visit forms part of the VRC’s Asian tourism strategy, which saw Melbourne Cup Carnival racegoers travelling from Asia increase by 133 per cent in 2014.
The Cup, which travels internationally on its own passport, has recently visited Hong Kong and is also booked to travel to China this year before embarking on the 13th annual Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour.
The 33 Australian and New Zealand destinations will be unveiled on Tuesday with the Tour to begin on 9 July.
Few Japanese horses have competed at the Carnival since Delta Blues’ historic win, with quarantine requirements cited as a barrier to travel to Australia. However, four Japanese horses made the journey last year, with even more expected this year.