Three hundred hours of hard work for the Australian Melbourne Cup | North Queensland Registry


When the owner of Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup-winning horse steps onto the winners’ podium at Flemington, 10 artisans from a little-known workshop in west-central Sydney will witness 300 hours of their highly skilled work at altitude for the world. to have .

The artisans of WJ Sanders, one of Australia’s oldest silversmiths and silversmiths and a subsidiary of the Pallion Precious Metal Services Group, made the 2021 Cup over a year ago, hand-spinning leaves of 18 carat gold to make it one of the most famous. trophies on the planet.

They also completed the 2022 Cup which, like its 2021 version, will begin an annual tour of regional Australia after tomorrow’s race, giving as many Australians as possible the chance to see the Cup up close.

“The Inner West holds one of Australia’s best secrets,” says WJ Sanders production manager Darren May of Pallion, who is also creating the trophy line for the tournament from scratch. Australian Open tennis and the Bathurst 1000 car race – legends like the Norman Brooks Challenge Cup and the Peter Brock Trophy.

TRADITIONAL TECHNIQUES: A craftsman at work at the foot of the Cup in the WJ Sanders workshop in Marrickville. Photo by Pallion.

But word is spreading: In October, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese shone the spotlight on Pallion, Marrickville’s largest employer with 250 workers at 20 sites, when he held a press conference at the shop. WJ Sanders in his Grayndler constituency, the craftsmen at work behind him.

The Melbourne Cup has been held there since 2016. An original five-year contract with the Victorian Racing Club has been renegotiated into an ongoing relationship for the foreseeable future, says May.

Its manufacture in Pallion, he says, ensures that it is an entirely Australian creation. The gold comes from a different mine each year – for the 2021 cut, it came from the Fosterville mine at Kirkland Lake near Bendigo in Victoria. It is then refined in Marrickville by ABC Refinery, Australia’s largest independent gold refiner and another of Pallion’s six subsidiaries, alongside (among others) ABC Bullion and Palloys, a precious metals smelter for the jewelry wholesalers.

“It’s about being fair and equitable with our partners – we are refining gold for many of Australia’s largest gold mines, and they are all very excited to be part of the Melbourne Cup, ”Mr. May said.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Every member of WJ Sanders' 10 employees helped create the Cup, said production manager Darren May.  Photo by Pallion.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Every member of WJ Sanders’ 10 employees helped create the Cup, said production manager Darren May. Photo by Pallion.

“It ensures that every aspect of this Cup is made in Australia, which in the past hasn’t been. We are proud to say that we are making the Melbourne Cup.”

In addition to the star trophy, the workshop manufactures at least 70 other replica trophies, all in the “love cup” design that dates back to 1919 and is defined by its three handles which represent the owner, the trainer and the jockey.

But only the Melbourne Cup presented to the winning owner that day is pure gold – worth over $ 275,000 in 2021.

May explains that the cup begins its life in fine 99.99 percent investment grade gold.

“We then alloyed it with 18k yellow gold, and then we start working with that metal. When we receive it [at W.J. Sanders] it’s in giant gold leaf, worth about $ 55,000 a leaf, ”he says.

GOOD GOLD: The Cup in its constituent parts in the WJ Sanders workshop.  Photo by Pallion.

GOOD GOLD: The Cup in its constituent parts in the WJ Sanders workshop. Photo by Pallion.

“Then we use traditional techniques – for example, the bowl is spun by hand. Computers can now do this job, but we still do it by hand – it’s hard to explain, but when you spin it out. the hand, the metal speaks to you. You can hear it making sounds, and the 18k yellow gold will tell you when it has had enough, and if you don’t stop then it will shatter. “

The stem and foot are also hand-spun, and the three handles are each made from four pieces of metal.

I say to myself: “I’m doing the Melbourne Cup”. It gives goosebumps to think about it. – Darren May

The wooden base of the trophy is made from jarrah from Western Australia – as was the case in 1919 – turned on a lathe in the traditional way.

“Each member of our 10 employees has a role to play in the making of the cup, whether they are spinning the bowl, soldering it, polishing the gold or engraving it,” said Mr. May.

“In a nutshell, you could walk in on a Monday morning and look at any person in that place, and know that they were instrumental in delivering this trophy.

SECRET'S OUT: Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese addresses the media during the WJ Sanders workshop in his Grayndler electorate, the Melbourne Cup to his right.

SECRET’S OUT: Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese addresses the media during the WJ Sanders workshop in his Grayndler electorate, the Melbourne Cup to his right.

“We are all honored to be able to do this: the Melbourne Cup has more symbolism attached to it than any other trophy in Australia… and each of us in the workshop has a moment during the making of the Cup where we take a step back from what we’re doing, and just watch it, and I do – I’m like, ‘I’m doing the Melbourne Cup’. It gives goosebumps to think about it. “

And the gold cup is only part of the job: the artisans also make two two-thirds scale replicas for the winning jockey and trainer, and two half-scale replicas for the bracelet and the ‘rancher, all in solid gold-plated sterling silver. .

Additionally, the workshop makes the Gate Draw Cups – mini versions that are randomly selected before the race by the owners of each horse, each with a number that determines which gate their horse will start from.

FINAL TOUCHES: The finished mug is polished.  Each year, the Cup travels across Australia before being presented to Flemington.  Photo by Pallion.

FINAL TOUCHES: The finished mug is polished. Each year, the Cup travels across Australia before being presented to Flemington. Photo by Pallion.

Then there are the mini tour cups, presented as a souvenir to representatives of each of the cities visited by the Cup during its annual tour.

There is also a large scale gold plated replica made every year. This has proven particularly useful during lockdowns, Mr May said, when the Real Cup has repeatedly been unable to get out of Victoria for its regional touring duties. In a typical year, that’s a reserve just in case two horses win.

“The likelihood of a tie is very, very slim,” May said. “I have probably stepped into it now and this will be the first year!” ”

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The story Three hundred hours of hard work for the Australian Melbourne Cup first appeared on Stock & Earth.


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