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Chamber celebrates Spring Racing launch

Paul Guerra, Annabel Neasham, Wayne Hawkes and Michael Felgate

The Victorian Chamber launched the 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival and the race that stops the nation at a special event trackside at Flemington Racecourse. 


An incredible panel at our yearly Victorian Chamber Presents Melbourne Cup Carnival Lunch included multiple Group One winning trainer Annabel Neasham, acclaimed owner and trainer Wayne Hawkes, and MC and racing expert Michael Felgate. 

Victoria Racing Club (VRC) CEO Steve Rosich also provided an update about preparations for this year’s carnival and its economic impact on Victoria.

Both Ms Neasham and Mr Hawkes shared tales of their early careers, what racing means to them, the state of the industry today and how governments and racing can work together to achieve outcomes.

Ms Neasham commenced her journey Down Under “in what was supposed to be a holiday visa” in 2016.

Starting under star trainer Gai Waterhouse, she then worked alongside Ciaron Maher at his Caulfield stables.

“One thing I learned is you never stop learning,” she said. “Racing is one of those industries with very long hours but it is very rewarding – you only do it if you love it and I love it.”

She has gone on to produce eight Group One winners, eleven Group Two winners, five Group Three winners and 14 listed winners, rising to fourth in prize money earnings in the Australian trainer’s premiership.

The audience also heard of her win in the Mongolian Cup, a 1,000km race that took more than six days to complete along Genghis Khan’s old postal route.

Mr Hawkes is one of the Hawkes Racing trio, alongside his brother Michael and father John.

The Hawkes Racing stable has enjoyed unbridled success, producing more than 700 winners, 15 at Group One level, a total of 95 stakes wins and stable earnings exceeding $50 million.

“Anyone who works with family in business can tell you it’s a love-hate relationship. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going,” he said, crediting his family bond for the shared success.

Wayne is in charge of the stable’s Flemington training base and has launched the careers of some of Team Hawkes’s best gallopers, including the famed Chautauqua.

Outside of racing Mr Hawkes also has a successful transport business with wife Jane.

Victoria Racing Club (VRC) CEO Steve Rosich outlined the scale of “Australia’s original major event at Flemington”, saying it is the largest economic contributing event in Australia, generating $422 million for Victoria.

The Melbourne Cup weekend sees attendances of more than 250,000 people across the four days, the largest across any race event in Australia, with half of all corporate packages purchased by interstate buyers.

“People come into the great state of Victoria, into Melbourne, staying in hotels and participating in a great sporting and cultural event,” Mr Rosich said.

Victorian Chamber Chief Executive Paul Guerra lauded the speakers and spoke of the anticipation for the Spring Carnival.

“It’s great to have a such a strong racing presence today. Victoria has a long and proud racing history, and the industry is a significant driver of our economy, generating $4.7 billion annually to Victoria,” Mr Guerra said.

“The Spring Racing Carnival is unmatched in the way it stimulates our community spirit and culture, driving tourism and boosting business.”

The Melbourne Cup Carnival runs from 4-11 November this year, with the Lexus Melbourne Cup on 7 November. More information is available on the Victoria Racing Club website.

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