By Andrew Adermann
The Melbourne Cup is the race that stops a nation for good reason.
Whether you’re an avid fan – or a once-a-year punter who enters the office sweep – the Melbourne Cup has helped shape our national identity with some of Australia’s most memorable moments.
Who could forget Damien Oliver’s emotion-charged win on Media Puzzle in 2002; Makybe Diva’s unprecedented three-peat; and Michelle Payne’s triumph aboard Prince of Penzance that inspired the movie, Ride Like a Girl?
In recent times, the likes of Winx and Black Caviar transcended an industry and did what many thought was no longer possible.
Black Caviar went unbeaten in her 25-start career including 15 Group 1s, and Winx went a step further notching up a world record 33 consecutive wins.
And in the process, these equine heroes not only captured the attention of the nation, they got people pondering whether they too could own a small piece of a future legend.
There’s always been a perception that owning a racehorse is exclusive to the upper-class citizens, and too expensive for your everyday punter – well it’s not.
The racing industry is inclusive of all walks of life, and there are countless success stories that highlight the fact that it doesn’t matter what an animal costs, sometimes all you need is a bit of luck.
What makes ownership in Australia so exciting is that champions can come from anywhere and everywhere.
Takeover Target was purchased for $1,250 by Queanbeyan taxi driver Joe Janiak in 2003, and went on to earn more than $6 million in prize money, including wins in eight Group 1 races.
More recently, the four-year-old Tasmanian mare, Mystic Journey, was an $11,000 purchase and has already earned more than $3 million in her short career, including the inaugural All-Star Mile.
Owning a stake in an animal is more affordable than ever, with organisations like MiRunners making ownership accessible through the purchase of a horse and splitting the cost into 1,000 units.
The face of MiRunners in Dusty Tycoon cost buyers a mere $176 per unit, and in January she ran in the $2 million Magic Millions 2YO Classic after scoring two wins in her first two starts.
Even if your horse isn't a Group 1 winner, owners will tell you that it makes no difference - it's all about the journey.
Anthony Lanskey is the Principal at Gympie State High School who owns a small share 2019 Melbourne Cup winner Vow and Declare, and his story serves as inspiration for prospective owners.
Vow and Declare was unsold at the 2016 Inglis Sale after not meeting his reserve price of $60,000, a relatively small sum for a thoroughbred.
Anthony’s uncle, who owns Vow and Declare’s dam, Geblitzt, contacted his nephew after the Inglis Sale to ask if he and a few other mates were keen to purchase the yearling.
“At the same time, my youngest son turned 21 and my eldest graduated from uni so I thought that might be a nice present for the two of them so I gave them a share as well,” Anthony Lanskey said.
“Between my uncle, two of my best mates and my two sons, we were able to get a nice share in Vow and Declare.”
Anthony had always been interested in horse ownership, but states that he never really had the opportunity to be involved, so when this chance came along he jumped straight in without a second thought.
“You obviously have to be very patient, because if you’re in it just for the overnight success then that probably isn’t going to happen,” Lanskey continued.
“We got very, very lucky but it is a patient game.”
Vow and Declare’s first run came at Cranbourne in August 2018, running a modest eighth place, before breaking through for his maiden win three starts later at Warrnambool over 2381 metres.
Three weeks later, he was running down the famous straight at Flemington, scoring his first listed win in the TCL TV Stakes on Kennedy Oaks Day.
“His first few runs we just had to watch up in Gympie, and do it on our phones,” Lanskey recalls.
“One run I had to book out a five-minute meeting in my schedule between appointments with parents and kids so I could watch him on my phone.”
The rising star made his way up to Brisbane in the winter of 2019, where he announced himself as one of the leading stayers in the country, running second in the Group 1 Queensland Derby before going on to win the Group 3 Tattersall’s Cup.