Vintage Crop, the Melbourne Cup winner of 1993 who helped to turn the race into one of the most celebrated international staying races, has died in Ireland aged 27.
The bold and brave bid by trainer Dermot Weld and owner Michael Smurfit to bring Vintage Crop to Melbourne in the spring of that year radically changed how all major racing centres across the world viewed the Melbourne Cup.
‘‘Weld was clearly a genius, Vintage Crop was a legend, and their dramatic appearance in 1993 significantly sped up the global ambition we had for the Melbourne Cup,’’ former general manager of Racing Victoria Greg Nichols said on hearing the news.
Nichols said Vintage Crop, who competed in three Melbourne Cups finishing out of a place in 1994 but returning in 1995 to be third, showed that to travel from any part of the world to Australia could be achieved.
‘‘Weld was really before his own time. He was winning races in America and Hong Kong and knew with such sophisticated air travel that crossing the world was not something you just dreamed about.’’
‘‘Let's not forget Vintage Crop not only won a Melbourne Cup but superbly won two Irish St Legers and was a skilled and brilliant jumper, and it’s something that most Europeans will always remember about him because it’s no slight on him to be a good jumper like it is often here in Australia,’’ Nichols said.
Since Vintage Crop burst to the front in 1993, the Melbourne Cup has changed forever.
Representatives from across Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and Ireland have now made the Cup a significant international event.
Vintage Crop finished his days in retirement at the Irish National Stud in Kildare where he lived among other living legends, and a life-sized statue of him was erected at The Curragh racecourse.
Amazingly Vintage Crop didn’t start his career until he was four years old and that event was over 3200 metres.
But that was Vintage Crop – he did it like no other horse had done it before.
His record was 16 wins from 28 starts.
The story Vintage Crop, the 1993 Melbourne Cup winner, has died first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.