The Melbourne Cup may have been reimagined this year due to COVID-19, but drinks brands associated with the carnival have raised a glass to the return of major events in Victoria.
The famed Birdcage has been transformed into a “pink zone” for attendees, featuring cocktails at the Botanical Bar and nature-inspired Wildflower precinct with luxury dining pods.
The carnival kicked off with Penfolds Victoria Derby Day on Saturday. More than 5000 race goers were on track at Flemington Racecourse to watch the Ciaron Maher and David Eustace-trained Hitotsu, ridden by John Allen, win the $2 million Group 1 Penfolds Victoria Derby (2500m), Australia’s oldest classic race with a history dating back to 1855.
To celebrate the first Penfolds Victoria Derby Day, Penfolds gifted a Magill Cellar 3 Barrel, valued at $160,000, to the winner of the coveted race, in what will become an annual tradition. The barrel program, introduced in 2015, offers only 14 barrels from the 2018 vintage and is curated by the Penfolds winemaking team, led by Chief Winemaker Peter Gago.
To celebrate Penfolds’ first year as naming rights sponsor of Victoria Derby Day, the VRC hosted a number of its ambassadors at a morning brunch, with VRC Ambassador Crystal Kimber, Melbourne Cup Carnival Ambassador Diana Chan and Myer Fashions on your Front Lawn Ambassadors Tayla Damir and Tim Kano all donning the traditional black and white Derby Day attire and enjoying a glass of both Penfolds Bin 28 Shiraz and the newly released Penfolds Max’s Rose.
Victoria Racing Club Chief Executive Officer, Steve Rosich, said the club welcomed the opportunity to have racegoers back at Flemington.
“It was great to be able to welcome racegoers including our valued VRC members back on track to watch an exceptional day of racing and enjoy our world-renowned hospitality, entertainment, fashion and fun,” Rosich said.
“Whilst there was limited capacity permitted on-course, we are so grateful to get crowds back at Flemington and we have shown that you can have fans at major sporting events and it can be done safely.
“The scene is now set for an exciting 161st running of the Lexus Melbourne Cup on Tuesday with the announcement of 24-horse strong field today. Australia’s rising star Incentivise is set to tackle the best in Australia and the world, including last year’s Lexus Melbourne Cup winner Twilight Payment and nine-time Group 1-winning heroine Verry Elleegant.”
Meanwhile, the Furphy Sprint race was won by Minhaaj; while Milton Park won the Furphy Plate. The brewery has also been promoting its ‘Get Vaxxed to the pub’ message across the carnival.
Diageo will be on-ground mixing up carnival cocktails with a special demonstration for viewers to try at home. The Victorian Racing Club shared a recipe for a Peachito Cocktail with Havana Club rum.
Mumm gets the party started
Model Montana Cox (below) popped a bottle of Champagne to get the G.H Mumm Melbourne Cup party started on Friday.
“Women can’t wait to dress up again in Melbourne,” she said.
“For me, it’s all about embracing spring’s best colours – think rich reds, pale pinks and canary yellows. It’s about getting out of the grey mode we’ve been wearing all year and opting for something inspiring. It’s really our chance to change the mood.”
As the official Champagne of the Melbourne Cup Carnival for the past 12 years, G.H.Mumm also set up trackside with the Victorian Racing Club, hosting customers for private dining within the Wildflower precinct, as well as welcoming VRC members back to the G.H. Mumm Champagne Bar located in the Club Stand.
This year Mumm also focused on supporting Australian hospitality with on-premise events in venues across Australia.
“Melbourne Cup Carnival kicks off a season that is all about celebration and connection with loved ones, and we are honoured to be part of those moments as they enjoy a glass of Mumm,” said Eric Thomson, Global Marketing Director for Pernod Ricard Winemakers.