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MEDIA RELEASE - Spring racing fever takes over Portland

15 October 2018

Hundreds of race fans have enjoyed spring racing fever in Portland today as part of the Lexus Melbourne Cup tour.

Former Victorian chief steward Des Gleeson and Melbourne Cup ambassador Georgia Connolly entertained locals with the story of the iconic cup, which has weaved its way through a global itinerary stopping at 37 destinations en route to Flemington for the Spring Racing carnival.

Mr Gleeson said the Lexus Melbourne Cup was something “everyone can relate to sometime in their life”.

“It is the people of Australia’s race and it very pleasing to bring it to the community … you can see the pleasure it brings to people when they first receive it,” he said.

Among the hundreds of revellers was Mt Gambier man Colin Gilmore who has attended 70 consecutive Melbourne Cup race meetings.

The 92-year-old had never had a photo with the cup and was delighted to finally get his hands on Australia’s richest handicap race trophy.

“This is pretty exciting,” Mr Gilmore said, adding he always picked the cup winner.

“The key is to always bet on every horse – so you don’t lose,” he laughed.

Glenelg Shire Mayor Cr Anita Rank said shire’s connection to the Melbourne Cup dated back to 1880 when Portland-born jockey Tom Hales won on Grand Flaneur.

“Hales had a trifecta winning year claiming the Australian Jockey Club Derby, the Victorian Derby and the Melbourne Cup on the unbeaten Grand Flaneur,” she said.

“Our shire’s history with racing runs deep, as we are the home of Australia’s oldest remaining live hedge steeple race in Casterton.”

She said council was grateful of the support of former Victorian Premier the Hon Denis Napthine and former Country Racing Victoria chairman and Victorian Racing Club committee member Robert Hunter who advocated on behalf of council to lure the cup visit.

“This has been a magical day for racing fans in our community, and for many who travelled from afar, who were extremely excited to see and hold this iconic cup,” Cr Rank said.

“The joy and excitement on the faces of residents at Portland Bupa and patients at Portland District Health was a delight to see. Des and Georgia were mobbed by eager fans at the boat ramp whilst the library was inundated with fans of all ages.

“We are extremely grateful to the VRC (Victorian Racing Committee) for accepting Portland’s nomination, putting it alongside destinations such as the United Kingdom, Ireland and Seoul on this global tour.

“The vision of the cup arriving by boat at our marina is attracting national media attention, further highlighting Portland, and indeed the broader Glenelg Shire, as a tourist destination.”

To see more of the Lexus Melbourne Cup visit see council’s Facebook page.

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