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                                                                                                                                                                                                            By Timothy Mottram

                    he Melbourne Cup has become a legitimate

            Tpart of the Australian story. In a way,

            it provides a backdrop to many different eras of

            the nation’s history. The most famous legend is

                                                                                                                                        e was a handsome dun horse, bigger than most, standing at 16.3
            that of Phar Lap, a horse that won the Cup despite                                                                    Hhands. According to witnesses, he had an unusual rolling gait, and

            surviving a gangland hit and gave the country                                                                          ran with his head held high and his tongue lolling out. Known as “The

            hope during the depression of the 1930s.                                                                               Bull” by Nowra locals, he was fierce and indomitable.

                                                                                                                                      He was a handsome dun horse,   reports have been discovered that   large wager on his own horse.
                                                                                                                                   bigger than most, standing at 16.3   conclusively show that he boarded a   The race itself was eventful. A
               Yet the first winner has also   but neglected for decades. Miles   the Exeter Farm, a current hayshed               hands. According to witnesses, he had   steam ship from Greenwell Point and   horse bolted off the tracks while
            garnered a mystique which        from anywhere, gold was discovered   stands on the site of a stable, in which         an unusual rolling gait, and ran with   was sailed to Melbourne.   two other horses died. Two jockeys
            occasionally resurfaces in discussions   here in the 1850s, which led to the   there was a stall with the name of the   his head held high and his tongue   This somewhat disappointing   sustained injuries. Yet Archer still
            about the race. Archer won the cup in   inevitable influx of speculators.   horse etched on a plaque. If this is       lolling out. Known as “The Bull” by   story can be leavened by the fact that   had the favourite to contend with, a
            its first and second incarnations, and   Rolling hills and gullies provided   true, Archer stood there as a stallion.   Nowra locals, he was fierce and   Archer did in fact tramp hundreds of   horse named Mormon. Archer caught
            sealed his place in folklore. Like Phar   excellent breeding grounds for   By 1860, Archer had found his               indomitable.                     miles across the state throughout his   him on the final turn, and won by six
            Lap, this was a horse of its time, who   horses, while the affluence brought   way to champion trainer Etienne de         Perhaps more famous than his   racing life. Local races meant that he   lengths. De Mestre took home the
            managed to help create a tradition   by the gold pans meant that leisure   Mestre, who would go on to train five       actual win was the legend that he was   walked as far as Tamworth in the New   prize money and a gold watch. The
            which stretches to this day.     activities could develop. Horse racing   winners of the Cup. Archer was to be         walked and ridden over 1000km from   England region, his trainer sleeping   Cup was not actually a cup, at this
               Just off the Canberra to Cooma   became a pastime, and so breeding   his first. Trained expertly in Terara,         Nowra to Melbourne prior to the race.   rough and the horse covering up to   point.
            road is a small, heritage-listed town   became a vocation.       near Nowra on the south coast,                        Indeed, a movie from the 1980s retold   40km per day.              On the very next day, Archer easily
            called Braidwood. Like many old    While there is some controversy   the stallion would win seven local                the story of hardship and pioneer   In Melbourne, Archer was not   won the Melbourne Town Plate at
            colonial towns, history ignited here   over where he was foaled, Archer   races in a row, putting him in prime         spirit. However, ten years ago this   considered the favourite to win   Flemington, which should go some
            and then guttered, leaving many of   appeared on Exeter Farm in 1856.   place to participate in the inaugural          story was ruined by Mrs Olive Royd,   the race. His odds of 6-1 were only   way to showing his strength of
            the original buildings still standing   According to the former manager of   Melbourne Cup.                            a Braidwood resident. Newspaper   narrowed when de Mestre placed a   character.

            14  |  TOUCHLINEMAGAZINE.COM                                                                                                                                                                TOUCHLINEMAGAZINE.COM  |  15
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