TWEED River Art Gallery curator Gail McDermott with the 1888 Melbourne Cup now on show in Murwillumbah.
TWEED River Art Gallery curator Gail McDermott with the 1888 Melbourne Cup now on show in Murwillumbah.

Local gallery scores Melbourne Cup coup

By ED SOUTHORN

THE rest of Australia has to wait for the first Tuesday in November to see the Melbourne Cup.

But right now Tweed locals and visitors can enjoy an exclusive close-up look at one of the best ever cups from "the race that stops the nation".

The spectacular 1888 Centennial Melbourne Cup, won by Mentor, is on show under strict security at the Tweed River Art Gallery, loaned from the National Gallery of Australia, thanks to a brilliant coup by the local gallery's exhibitions curator Gail McDermott.

Ms Mcdermott's success in securing the massive trophy means there really is no need to bother going all the way to Flemington just to catch a fleeting glimpse of this year's trophy, when you can gaze as long as you want at one of the flashiest Melbourne Cups ever made, in Murwillumbah.

At more than half a metre high and half a metre in diameter, topped with three magnificent silver horses, the 1888 Melbourne Cup is breathtaking, certainly one of the most impressive trophies in Australia and the single most valuable object yet displayed in the new gallery, according to Ms McDermott.

"It's part of my job to arrange touring exhibitions and the 1888 cup is a loan item, but I thought it would have been booked for the Spring racing season," Ms Mcdermott said yesterday.

"I called the National Gallery six months ago and I was stunned it was still available. "The Melbourne Cup is like part of the genetic make-up of Australians but most of us don't get to see one up close."

The 1888 Melbourne Cup is so precious the Tweed River Art Gallery had to provide extensive details of security and display arrangements before the National Gallery agreed to the loan.

The cup was made by English firm Elkington and Co of Birmingham and to mark the centenary of British settlement in 1888 it was made bigger than usual and the Victoria Racing Club increased prizemoney for the big gallop to 3000 gold sovereigns.

This year's Melbourne Cup trophy is valued at around $100,000 and the 1888 cup is insured for a similar amount.

The cup is on display until December 18.



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