Coffs Harbour's Nathan Spies received a thrill when he had the opportunity to have his photo taken with the Melbourne Cup.
Coffs Harbour's Nathan Spies received a thrill when he had the opportunity to have his photo taken with the Melbourne Cup.

The peoples' cup thrills local punters

By BRAD GREENSHIELDS

IT was 15 years ago that Greg Hall became a Melbourne Cup legend when he rode Subzero to victory.

As thrilled as he was that day (and he cheekily admitted that night), Hall believes that the opportunity to travel around the country with the 2007 Melbourne Cup tour has given him an even greater appreciation of his achievement back in 1992.

"My memories of the day are as clear as crystal but I'm enjoying it more now," he said.

"I'm really enjoying bringing the Melbourne Cup to the people and the recognition that I'm getting now.

"I've been retired for five years, but now with the opportunity to bring the Cup out to the country towns and see the looks on the faces of people both young and old really is worth it."

A large gathering was on hand at Park Beach Plaza yesterday to greet the iconic trophy to town and have the opportunity to get their photo taken with the famous three handled cup.

Coffs Harbour mayor Keith Rhodes was thrilled to officially welcome the Melbourne Cup to the area.

"The Cup goes a long, long way back in time and there's a lot of history behind it," he enthused.

"The Cup does a lot for Australians and the best thing about it is that it symbolises the 'Aussie battler'."

No matter where the 18 carat gold trophy travelled yesterday, be it at the Plaza, the Racing Club luncheon or NAB's Coffs Harbour branch, the kid gloves were definitely out.

Considering that the Cup itself is valued at $80,000, it was no surprise that people could only get close to the Cup but not touch it.

The trophy is that valuable that Hall doesn't even keep the jockey's trophy that he won at home.

"It's in a safety deposit box at a special bank, that's how precious it is to me," he said.

"I grew up in a racing family and as a child you always dream about winning a Melbourne Cup but you never actually think that you will do it.

"There are some very famous jockeys like Scobie Breasley who never won a Melbourne Cup. They won a lot of other great races but they've said that they would give it all back to just win one Melbourne Cup."

Winning the gold trophy may be just a dream for most in this town but at least they can now say that they have been up close to it.



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