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Racing ministers meet for a cup-pa.

29 September 2004

Racing ministers meet for a cup-pa.

Racing ministers from both sides of the Tasman will tomorrow take tea with the Melbourne Cup.

Victorian Racing Minister John Pandazopolous is bringing the much-coveted 18-carat gold cup to New Zealand as part of a tour to promote the November 2 race.

The tour's first Wellington stop is the office of New Zealand Racing Minister Damien O'Connor.

"The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) received over 50 tenders from Australia and New Zealand to host the Cup tour, so I'm extremely pleased it's going to be in my office!" Mr O'Connor said. "I just hope morning tea doesn't turn into a tug of war."

Australian horse Makybe Diva won the Cup last year, but with a strong history of Cup victories, New Zealand is ever hopeful of winning it back.

Mr O'Connor said tomorrow morning would be a good chance to catch up with Mr Pandazopolous, and VRC representative Joe McGrath, also on the tour.

"There are big plans afoot to revitalise the New Zealand racing industry and it's always useful to compare what other jurisdictions are doing; especially Australia, with whom we have very strong racing ties."

The Wellington leg of the tour will also include a Kirkcaldie and Stains window display and a visit to Te Papa, where the Cup will be briefly reunited with one of its former winners – Phar Lap. The skeleton of the iconic New Zealand horse, which won the Cup in 1930, is permanently on display at the museum.

The Melbourne Cup has already toured Auckland in the past week, and will be on display on October 2 at New Zealand's richest race, the Kelt Capital Stakes in Hastings.

"Having the Cup here is a fantastic way to get everyone geared up for the big race in November," Mr O'Connor said. "And the event is a big deal to Kiwis; we bet about $6.4 million in total on it last year alone."


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