David Avard with the Melbourne Cup.
David Avard with the Melbourne Cup. Renee Pilcher

Gympie hosts Melbourne Cup

FAIRYTALES and dreams really do come true at Melbourne Cup time, according to Gympie's own Cup winner Wendy Green.

But yesterday and today provides the only real chance most of us will ever have to share in the golden light of the Cup's reflected glory.

Wendy Green, owner of 1999 Emirates Melbourne Cup champion, Rogan Josh, helped escort racing's Holy Grail on an Australian and international tour to give selected centres a close look at the Melbourne Cup.

She was joined by Sheila Laxon, the only woman in Melbourne Cup history to train a winner, Ethereal in 2001.

The 18-carat gold Emirates Melbourne Cup trophy, valued at $175,000 (or priceless if you win one), is also escorted by Victorian Racing Club representative Joe McGrath.

Gympie is one of 25 non-Melbourne locations to host the Cup this year.

Once upon a time, in a far-away land called Victoria, Gympie's Wendy Green experienced a fairytale that came true.

Telling her story to pre-schoolers at Gympie's Alma St Kindergarten and Preschool yesterday, Wendy the owner of 1999 Melbourne Cup winner, Rogan Josh, was joined by Melbourne trainer and Cup winner Sheila Laxon, the only woman to train a Melbourne Cup winner in the event's 150 years.

Students made their own fascinators and even managed to round up a wooden horse for the occasion.

"You look fantastic," Sheila Laxon told them as she told how hard work could give people their best chance in life.

"I was your age when I first rode a horse," she said.

Gympie Turf Club, represented by secretary Spencer Slatter and Treasurer John Pullen, secured the Cup's visit to Gympie as part of its annual Australian and overseas pre-race tour.

It was welcomed by Mayor Ron Dyne and Gympie Region councillors at Gympie Town Hall and also visited Gympie South State School, Cooinda Aged Care Centre, Centro Shopping Centre and a Civic Centre charity dinner in aid of Little Haven Palliative Care.

Wendy Green had the preschoolers transfixed as she told her true story of a humble horse, not particularly well bred, raised by a humble man "who just loved horses".

Rogan Josh lived "in a very ordinary paddock, but he was really good at running.

"He was just a happy, friendly horse, but he met a magician called Bart Cummings.

"Lots of people were coming to the kingdom and winning the Cup and taking it home. And everyone was sad, because people in the kingdom liked to think they had the best horse.

"Rogan Josh and all the people who loved him went to Melbourne. No-one thought he could win, but the magician cast a spell that made him the best horse in that far-away land," she said.

Gympie Times

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