Archer won the first two Melbourne Cups more than 150 years ago and yet there is no memorial to honour the champion thoroughbred anywhere in Australia.
But that’s all set to change, according to the manager of Archer Racecourse in his NSW home town of Nowra.
Lynn Locke, long-serving chief executive of Shoalhaven City Turf Club, says plans are well underway to erect a life-size, bronze sculpture of Archer being led by trainer and five-time Cup winner Etienne de Mestre with jockey Johnny Cutts aboard.
De Mestre lived at Terara on the NSW South Coast, a stone’s throw from the racecourse bearing his horse’s name but more than 800 kilometres from Flemington where Archer twice raced to victory in the Melbourne Cup.
“Black Caviar is already up and running as a statue and even Makybe Diva has a statue already,” Locke told AAP.
“I think because it happened so long ago maybe people forgot how important it was.
“It is probably later than what it should have been but with horse racing now coming to the forefront, it’s a good time to let everyone know we’re doing that.”
Sydney-based contemporary artists Gillie and Marc have won the tender for the memorial and have until Melbourne Cup day next year – November 6, 2018 – to cast the sculpture of the 1861 and 1862 champion.
The two are behind the statue of seven-time Group One winner Buffering within the forecourt of Brisbane’s Eagle Farm racecourse.
Locke said the idea had been bandied around for years but was reinforced when retired race caller Bryan Martin questioned the lack of a memorial for Archer while on the Melbourne Cup tour through Nowra last year.
Shoalhaven City Council has also thrown its support behind the proposal.
“We’d like to put it in a really prominent position where everyone can stop to have their photo with it,” Locke said.
“I think for tourism it’ll be great and it’ll create an awareness in the community of just how successful those two people and the horse really were.”
The racecourse will welcome a few thousand punters on Tuesday for the Melbourne Cup day meeting.
Locke is already excited for next year, when Nowra’s role within the Archer legacy will be formally acknowledged.
“For Archer to win two Melbourne Cups, for Etienne de Mestre to win five as a trainer, and to come from so far away to do it. He is part of our history,” she said.
“You don’t have to be a horse racing lover, you just have to be proud of the area and know that was a fantastic achievement.”