Historical cup overflows

By Liam Nash

Sometimes in life there are opportunities just too good to miss and, in Julie Madgwick’s case one came when stumbling across an article while reading a daily paper in November 2007.

A tiny headline advertising the 1892 Melbourne Cup trophy for auction danced across her line of sight while scanning the Herald Sun and, in that instant, the Strathmerton resident asked her husband if they could bid on it.

“Without even seeing the damn thing I got straight on the phone,” Mrs Madgwick said.

A few strenuous moments bidding on the telephone with Bonhams and Goodman followed and, after a cool figure of $168 000 had been paid, the famous cup was theirs, and it has a story to accompany it.

The 1892 Melbourne Cup was won by a staggering margin of almost two miles by horse named Glenloth, which was bred by James Sutherland Sr out of Lockharts Creek - who happened to be Mrs Madgwick's great-great-grandfather.

Glenloth was a sure thing, winning nearly every local start it raced it in, but staring down the barrel of a harsh drought Mr Sutherland was forced to sell his prized horse.

Many years on from that famous victory, the 1892 Melbourne Cup was bought from a deceased estate by an unknown buyer, who initially did not a clue what it was or its worth, until a dollop of polish and some old-fashioned elbow grease revealed the maker's mark.

The trophy remained in the safekeeping of the buyer until 2007, where Mrs Madgwick struck her own personal gold.

Immediately after buying it, the Melbourne Cup was hauled off to the Australian Sporting Museum where Mrs Madgwick presented the trophy in the following March with just about every news agency in the state poised to cover the event.

“Everybody you could think of was there, I didn’t have time to be nervous,” she said.

The cup remains at the museum to this day and was valued at more than $300 000 at its most recent appraisal four years ago.

But for Mrs Madgwick and her family, the sentimental value of the 1892 Melbourne Cup trumps any monetary worth.

“It is family history and you can’t replace that.”