Melbourne Cup visit sparks Piping Lane memories

THREE HANDLES: John Letts with the 1972 Melbourne Cup he won on Piping Lane. Picture: Phillip Biggs
THREE HANDLES: John Letts with the 1972 Melbourne Cup he won on Piping Lane. Picture: Phillip Biggs

The 2017 Melbourne Cup will come to Longford Racecourse on Wednesday, September 27, and will be accompanied by two-time Melbourne Cup winner John Letts and Flemington Ambassador Georgia Connolly.

The significance of Letts accompanying the Cup will not be lost on Tasmanian race fans.

It was Letts who won the ‘72 Cup on Tasmanian gelding Piping Lane.

Only three Tasmanian-bred horses have tasted victory in the 156-year history of the Melbourne Cup.

While two of these champion thoroughbreds claimed back-to-back victories more than 100 years ago, Malua in 1884 and Sheet Anchor in 1885, one horse still stands strong in the memory of many Tasmanians – Piping Lane.

The 1972 Melbourne Cup winner was in-fact originally a product of the Northern Midlands – the gelding was foaled in 1966 at Epping Forrest.

However, the horse known affectionately as ‘Pipeo’ was moved to Devonport as a three-year-old after being bought by Ray Trinder for $6000.

Letts recalled that he had never seen Piping Lane before riding him to victory in the race.

“I went over and I’d never seen the horse before, and I’d never ridden at Flemington,” he said.

“I was running on the rail in the middle of the field, then I got some good run through the field from about the 600, and then i got to the front about 100 metres out.

“When I was in Tasmania last time, there was a bookmaker that said ‘when Piping Lane won the Cup, you cost me my house and car’.

“He was an 80-1 chance and everyone over there backed him.”

The racehorse lived out his days beside his owner and best friend in East Devonport, according to Mr Trimble’s granddaughter Lisa.

“They were mates. They grew old together,” she said.

“Pop used to take him to pony club so that all the kids could have a pat. 

“He used to ride him, he used to hunt [with] him, and pretty much every year he went back to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup parade.”

To relive Piping Lane’s Melbourne Cup victory, visit the Longford Racecourse on September 27.