It’s 20-years on since Vintage Crop won the Emirates Melbourne Cup and at the International Breakfast With The Stars at Werribee this morning trainer Dermot Weld was still being lauded for making the race into what it is today.
The Emirates Melbourne Cup has always been a massive spectacle in Australia and over the years it has earned the name of “The Race That Stops A Nation” but speaking at the international base, Weld was praised by former Cup winning jockey Roy Higgins for making the race into the AUS$6.2m race that it is now.
“I think we have to thank Dermot Weld for sending Vintage Crop down here,” Higgins, a Melbourne Cup Tour Ambassador, said.
Weld became the first international trainer to win the Melbourne Cup when Vintage Crop triumphed in 1993 and repeated the feat with Media Puzzle in 2002.
“I think the race was going downhill to be totally honest,” Higgins added. “There were 1000/1 shots running that had no chance, horses running just so the owner could see his colours going around Flemington on Cup Day and just so they could get members badges for the day.”
Higgins himself won the race as a jockey in 1965 and 1967 for legendary trainer Bart Cummings and Higgins said that it was “fascinating” to see Weld win with the horse.
Another of the ambassadors is Tony Bourke who agreed wholeheartedly that Weld had changed the race for the better.
“At that stage people thought Vintage Crop was an occasional hurdler who was too slow on the flat and everyone said he’s not any good, he’s very ordinary, but Dermot created the pathway for all the international horses to follow. It showed that they could come to Australia and win our race.”
In previous years it was a major thing to run the Melbourne Cup horses on Derby Day here on the Saturday at Flemington and Bourke said that Weld even brought a change of thinking to that and now only those who need to win on Saturday to get into the race are opting to run so soon before the big race itself.
“Eventually even the great Bart Cummings appreciated that they didn’t have to run on the Saturday. Bart’s theory was that horses had to run on the Saturday before the Cup and that didn’t happen with Dermot’s horses.”