It might not have been Flemington on the first Tuesday in November, but Alkimos Primary School created their own Melbourne Cup experience on Wednesday.

Over 250 students, teachers and parents warmly welcomed the 2016 Emirates Melbourne Cup trophy to Perth as part of its annual Trans-Tasman tour.

To help celebrate the arrival of the iconic 18-carat gold trophy, valued at $175,000, a range of activities and events were staged throughout the day.

Teachers dressed up as jockeys, classrooms were decked out in racing memorabilia, year six students participated in a mock horse race and the school choir sang The Lion Sleeps, reworded in dedication to the Melbourne Cup.

But despite the festive atmosphere for everyone who attended nothing could match their delight in having a photo taken with a trophy that is intrinsically linked to Australia’s sporting and cultural landscape.

The Melbourne Cup is recognised as the race that stops a nation but yesterday, for Alkimos Primary School principal, Andrew Gorton, it was the cup that united a community.

“Our school opened this year and we were looking for a community event that could help celebrate that new beginning,” Gorton said.

“22 per cent of the school students come from another country and we thought what better than to bring them together for something that is uniquely Australian.

“And there isn’t anything more uniquely Australian than the Melbourne Cup.

“I have been stunned by the response to having this iconic trophy at our school.  Teachers and students have incredibly embraced it in class and integrating it in their learning areas.

“It’s been well over three months in the making since the tender process and the turnout and the response of the whole school community has been absolutely fantastic.

“I could not have been any more impressed than I am by the response of teachers and support staff and that’s why it makes our school so special.

“It will give the school real incentive, enthusiasm and energy to pursue other community events and lots of learning opportunities.”

Emirates Melbourne Cup Tour ambassador, Jim Cassidy, also joined in the local community celebrations.

The recently retired champion jockey, a dual winner of the Melbourne Cup, says he is still amazed by the race’s impact.

“To see the work, thought and effort put in was just outstanding,” Cassidy said.

“There outfits, little fascinators, their mock horses was terrific.

“To see the Melbourne Cup having an impact on a younger generation is just beautiful.

“The interest in the Melbourne Cup now, even around the world is amazing.

“It brings non racing people together with racing people.

“It’s amazing to come here today (Wednesday) and see how well it was organized, how well it was run and how much thought and preparation was put in by the kids for this one day.

“It brings back memories for me and gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.

“Here I am at 53 coming back and talking about the dreams I had.”

Julio Santarelli 

View the full interview with Jimmy Cassidy below: