In 2018, The Lexus Melbourne Cup offered an impressive $7.3 million in prize money and trophies, making it the richest handicap horse race in the world and one of the richest prizes in Australian sport.
As a part of the prize pool, the winning horse owners received an 18 carat gold trophy, valued at $200,000.
The Lexus Melbourne Cup trophy is known as the “Loving Cup”, with its three-handled design symbolising the relationship between the winning jockey, trainer and owner.
From 2016, the VRC commissioned ABC Bullion to manufacture the Lexus Melbourne Cup, using gold that has been mined, refined, and crafted wholly in Australia for the first time in the race’s 156-year history. This sees the trophy’s 44 pieces hand welded and it takes 250 hours to produce. The timber base of the Lexus Melbourne Cup is hand-turned from Australian jarrah and is the traditional base for every Melbourne Cup.
There are also two $15,000 miniature gold Cup trophies presented to the winning trainer and jockey, the latter also receiving a $5,000 trophy of the mounted gold-plated Harry White Whip. The horse’s strapper receives the Tommy Woodcock Trophy, valued at $7,500, named after the strapper to the legendary Phar Lap, winner of the 1930 Melbourne Cup. The breeder of the winner also receives a $7,500 trophy.
The fascinating evolution of the Cup trophy from the inception of the Melbourne Cup race in 1861 is reflective of a people determined to develop a symbol reflective of a developing nation.