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21 July 2021
The entire July 21, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
By SARAH MATTHEWS
Former Victorian chief steward and Melbourne Cup ambassador Des Gleeson praised the racing knowledge of west Wimmera youth during a visit to Kaniva.
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Mr Gleeson is touring the country with the 18-carat gold Lexus Melbourne Cup trophy.
The tour, in its 19th year, is an annual event celebrating the 160-year-old race and its contribution to the nation’s historical and cultural heritage.
It is designed to unite communities by engaging councils, schools, hospitals, aged-care homes and racing groups in efforts to raise money for local causes.
Kaniva Agricultural and Pastoral Society hosted the cup’s visit to West Wimmera Shire, organising a display of regional racing memorabilia and afternoon tea on Thursday.
That evening, the society hosted a formal dinner featuring cocktail and race attire.
Mr Gleeson showcased the trophy and spoke with school children before the afternoon event.
“It was fantastic, the kids were great,” he said.
“They have a wealth of knowledge between them – they know a lot about racing and certainly a lot about the Melbourne Cup. It’s fantastic to get the great trophy out to the people of Australia and Kaniva is a great place to tour.”
Mr Gleeson was a Racing Victoria steward for 30 years, including 13 as chief steward.
“I understood when I was working what the Melbourne Cup was, but since I’ve been an ambassador, I really understand what it means to the people of Australia,” he said.
“No matter where you go the length or breadth of Australia, the people recognise the trophy. It is ‘the race that stops the nation’ and it’s the people’s cup, so it’s great to get out among the communities with this fantastic trophy.”
Kaniva Agricultural and Pastoral Society secretary Kaye Bothe said the organisation was thrilled to win the opportunity to host the Melbourne Cup tour.
“When we did the application to host the cup tour, we did not think we would get it,” she said.
“We did the application to get the cup to come to the Kaniva Show in October, thinking that would be a great attraction to bring more people to the show. So, when we got the notification we’d been selected, we had to then design an event for it to come to. We put out the call for racing memorabilia and history in the Kaniva district and we’ve been very surprised with what we’ve received.
“The display is beautiful and the amount of stuff is amazing.
“We had a good crowd to see all the beautiful trophies and cups and racing photos from all our little areas around the town.”
Mrs Bothe said the evening’s formal dinner was sold out.
“It’s huge for the town,” she said.
Mrs Bothe said the society was working towards this year’s Kaniva Annual Show on October 9, which the committee hoped would go ahead despite ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions.