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Light hearts for first peacetime Melbourne Cup
Men from battiefronts and prison camps will be there
Melbourne Cup, 1945! Tom's home . . . Jack's home . . . For the first time in six years Cup-goers' hearts are really light again.
The war is won and next week Flemington will once again bask in the glory of "first Tuesday in
Already the lawns are green velvet and flower beds are a riot of color. But the grandest color of all will be in the ribbons and chevrons worn by returned servicemen, many of them ex-prisoners
WHILE punters are busy pin-pricking,
dreaming, playing hunches, working out systems, the only man who knows he will have the cup in the bag is Mr. Bill Maughan,
of Drummonds, old-established Mel-_
He has been custodian of the Mel- bourne Cup since 1920.
He takes it out under escort to Flemington, personally sees it dis- played in the enclosure of the Judge's box, and then puts it in the mount- ing-yard ready for the presentation.
No one else touches it.
The coveted Melbourne Gold Cup trophy is being rushed through this year in five weeks instead of the usual five months.
War's sudden ending meant a re- version to a gold cup instead of war bonds, which have been the prize
Maurice Steeth. Melbourne gold- smith, who has been doing aircraft production work during the war, is making the Melbourne Cup.
He was originally trained in the work by his father, Mr. James Steeth, goldsmith and Melbourne Cup maker for 20 years.
It takes a million hammer strokes to beat the 18-carat gold into a Cup.
Maurice is working night and day to finish it in time.
It will be mounted on a base of australian fiddle-back blackwood.
tA MOCK "Melbourne Cup" was run
in Changi Camp, Singapore, with frogs. Cpl. Doug McKenzie, who was owner-trainer of one winner, will be among ex-prisoners of war at the real Cup this year.
In partnership with Bill West, of Brisbane, now also back home, he won the "Melbourne Cup," 1942, against all-comers at "Frogville Racecourse," Changi, with "Green bottle," a spirited young bullfrog.
Some would - be cup-winners trained up to 12 bullfrogs.
Bookmakers did a roaring business. Starters took their places at the "barrier," under a box in the centre of the "Frogville" course-a circle about fifteen feet in diameter en- closed with a low railing.
"MELBOURNE CUP" trophy won in Changi Prison by Corporal D. McKenzie with his bullfrog,
COUNSEL, with his owner, Mrs. Duncan Fraser Smith. Both look-
ing forward to the big day.
"Greenbottle" was first to jump the railing.
Cpl. McKenzie feels that being at Flemington this year is like catch- ing up with the clock. For so long, prisoners measured the time by Melbourne Cups, ticking off the years with the reassurance: "We'll be home for the next one."
Year after year they followed the race on secret radio sets.
Now they can hardly believe they will also be able to see it run.
Several Cup candidates are owned by women.
Early acceptors included Mrs. D. W. Reddan, with Peter, who ran second in last year's Melbourne Cup, and Mrs. Duncan Fraser Smith, with Counsel.
"When Peter goes to Flemington for the Cup race this year his little pal Billy, a pony owned by Peter's trainer, Mr. Wally O'Dwyer, will share his stall," said Mrs. Reddan. "Peter and Billy are inseparable, and Billy will go along just to keep Peter company."
Counsel was a gift to Mrs. Fraser Smith from her father, well-known racehorse owner-breeder, Mr. P. Grant Hay.
She will attend the Cup with her husband, Flight-Lieutenant Duncan Fraser Smith, who returned last week after over three years with the R.A.A.F. in England.
"Apples and carrots are Counsel's speciality," says his trainer, Mr. R.
Counsel's good temper makes him a stable favorite. With him at Flemington will be his great friend and boon companion - an elderly pony belonging to Mr. Hay.
The pony exercises with Counsel every morning, and nearly always attends his important races to keep
PIN - PRICKING to select winner are punters Joan Leggo, Margaret Lineham. June Aslungul, Shirley Jones, and Toni Kirkpatrick.
RACING against time to finish the 1945 Melbourne Cup gold trophy. Maurice Steeth works day
him company and ward off shy- ness. Counsel is very highly strung, and likes to see a familiar face when he is with a crowd of strangers.
This year's Melbourne Cup crowd * may be a record. When Rivette won in 1939 there were 120,000 people there.
For weeks Melbourne has been booked out . . . Some visitors for the Cup have had to seek accommodation as far as 50 miles away.
There will be so many people at Flemington on Tuesday that there won't be the slightest comfort.
It will be just one long jostle from midday until after the Cup is run.
A lot of people will complain; vow that they will never put up with the inconvenience again.
But they will, because it's the Mel- bourne Cup. . .
EX-PRISONER OF WAR Pte. Leo Laraghy and veteran Sergeant Bill O'Connor with their wives and another ex-prisoner, Pte. Frank Holcombe, study form
and plan a day out at the Cup.