The Melbourne Cup is coming to Stratford in August this year.
Yesterday afternoon Stratford joined racing history, named as one of the 31 cities and towns across Australia and New Zealand chosen to be part of the 15th annual Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour.
The announcement was made at a special event at 2016 Emirates Melbourne Cup-winning owner Lloyd Williams' training facilities at Mount Macedon, Victoria, Australia. Lloyd is the most prolific owner in Melbourne Cup history, owning a record five Cup winners.
Chairman of the Stratford Business Association (SBA), Peter Dalziel, says the committee are all delighted with the news.
"When we put a tender in to host the Cup earlier this year, we were aware that many other towns and cities across both countries would be doing the same. We are delighted the organisers recognised Stratford's unique appeal and that our tender was successful."
The 18-carat gold Emirates Melbourne Cup will be in Stratford on Sunday, August 6 this year, and Peter says the SBA committee is hard at working planning a series of events for the day.
"We want everyone in the community to have the opportunity to be involved, to enjoy a great day and to get to see this piece of racing history up close."
Peter says the tender the SBA put in acknowledged the many Stratford links with the Cup.
"Stratford can claim some significant links to the Cup. Jockey Greg Childs, who has ridden in countless Melbourne Cups, is a local Stratford boy, while the parents of Michelle Payne, the first ever female winner of the Emirates Melbourne Cup, grew up just south of Stratford.
The last Stratford-owned horse to enter the Cup was All in Fun owned by Peter and Min McDonald in 1997.
Further links with the Cup are evident throughout the region of Taranaki, Peter adds.
"The 1983 winner of the Melbourne Cup, Kiwi, was owned and trained in Waverley and another famous horse from the region was Doriemus from Waitotora, which won the rare double, the Caufield and Melbourne Cups in 1995.
"We hope people from all around our region come to Stratford to enjoy our Melbourne Cup day in August and join with us in celebrating this piece of racing history."
Commencing on July 1, the $200,000 trophy will visit 31 destinations across Australia and New Zealand, starting in West Wyalong in regional NSW, where the gold used by ABC Bullion to make the trophy is mined, before returning to Flemington for The Race That Stops A Nation on the first Tuesday in November.
Peter says the details of the day will be released nearer the time.
"But I guarantee it is going to be a day to remember for all who come along."