From a Lion’s pour to keeping a Tab on punters, it’s just another Cup in the cage

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Early on, things were looking a little flat at Lion’s double-decker pavilion to promote its Geelong beer brand Furphy, part of its two-decade quest to steal market share from local rival Carlton United Brewery.

Upstairs, the usual political suspects included Nationals leader David Littleproud, former Nationals leader Michael McCormack and Liberals Sussan Ley and Bridget Archer.

Noiseworks rocker Jon Stevens and Visy heir Heloise Pratt. Credit: Eddie Jim

Chatter around the tracks that the government’s online gambling review was keeping federal ministers away didn’t stop former Labor leader Bill Shorten showing up with his wife Chloe Shorten.

But suddenly, about 1pm, a trio of enthusiastic but novice Furphy brand ambassadors made an entrance: namely billionaire Pratt family members Fiona Geminder, sister Heloise Pratt and their gal pal Herald and Weekly Times chairman Penny Fowler, niece of Rupert Murdoch.

Instantly on hand was fanboy Sam Fischer, the Lion chief executive, who posed for selfies with the trio alongside Geminder’s husband Raphael, chairman of Pact Group Holdings. Fischer was keen to promote the evening entertainment to his friends.

Herald and Weekly Times chair Penny Fowler (left), Lion CEO Sam Fischer and Heloise Pratt.Credit: Arsineh Houspian

“Are you going to Noiseworks afterwards?” he asked Fowler hopefully, in reference to Jon Stevens’ performance looming that afternoon. “What’s that?” she replied.


Fowler, Geminder and Pratt gamely entered into a CBD interview, but stayed resolutely on message.

“I’m so excited to be here,” Fowler offered, leaning into CBD’s digital recorder. “There you go.”

She then schooled her less media-savvy billionaire companions in the art of the interview.

From left: Furphy founders Adam and Sam Furphy pull a pint with Sam Fischer.Credit: Eddie Jim

“Any thoughts on who’s going to win?” Fowler prompted.

None were forthcoming.

“We are here to celebrate Lion and Furphy,” Geminder said loyally, even though she’s a light drinker.

Geminder then opined that the Lexus tent was “lovely”, before Fowler quickly chimed in that the Herald Sun marquee was also wonderful.

Geminder said she wanted to attend but wondered if she would be able to get through the front door. Fowler promised to put her name on the list.

Meanwhile, Fischer, the Lion chief, proved he would do anything for his brand by getting behind the bar at the marquee with Furphy founders Adam and Sam Furphy to pour a beer for the benefit of CBD’s photographer.

Fischer never took his eyes off the camera but still managed to pour a perfect pint while all smiles. “A sign of a misspent youth,” he quipped.


Next door at the Tabcorp marquee, David Gallop, board member and former chief executive of Football Federation Australia and the NRL, was holding court.

From left: Brett Chenoweth, David Gallop and John Lee at the Tabcorp marquee at the Birdcage. Credit: Eddie Jim

Gallop had a good day, tipping the Cup winner Without A Fight early and confidently.

“[Trainers] Anthony and Sam [Freedman] are old friends of mine and having won the Caulfield Cup, it would be good to see,” he said.

Gallop played the part of everyone’s friend, saying it was good to see lots of football and rugby players at racing’s big event.

“There are a few old faces, so I’ve said hello to them,” he said. “Horse racing is important to TAB, but so is sport.”

Former Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke with fellow racegoers in the Tabcorp marquee.Credit: Eddie Jim

Just across the room, former Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke was one of the few attendees with stamina, having doubled down on his Derby Day appearance on Saturday.

But despite placing a few bets, luck eluded him.

“Not at this stage, but fingers crossed,” he said. “The only race I really care about is the Melbourne Cup. If I can get a win and they can’t, that will give me bragging rights.”

No bragging rights for him, given his tip was Cup favourite Gold Trip, which pulled up lame and ran in 17th.

Rachel de Oliveira checks out the form guide in the Birdcage.Credit: Eddie Jim


After the Cup race, little groups coalesced at Crown, finding themselves far more interesting than the remaining races. At one booth, federal Liberal Party deputy leader Sussan Ley was spotted gal pal-ing with independently minded Liberal Tasmanian MP Bridget Archer. Bulking out the booth was NSW Liberal lobbyist/powerbroker Michael Photios. A broad church indeed.

Not too far away stood the tallest guy in the room (well, any room when hulking Labor MP Dan Repacholi is pavilion hopping elsewhere): recently departed AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan.

There is no hotter topic in the industry than McLachlan’s post-AFL plans. Might he be interested in becoming chairman of peak industry body Racing Victoria?

GIllon McLachlan after the race.Credit: Arsineh Houspian

So far, McLachlan has maintained a gnomic silence. Let’s hope his spring racing punting record isn’t an omen. Reliable sources tell CBD that Gill hadn’t backed a winner since the Caulfield Cup.

Another runner from the former AFL stable, former Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley, was spotted savouring an espresso martini with his girlfriend Brodie Ryan.

He said his strategy for the day was to “relax, get a drink, find a spot that I’m comfortable”. Mission accomplished.

Nathan Buckley and girlfriend Brodie Ryan.Credit: Eddie Jim


The Lexus marquee attracted serious star power on Derby Day with Hollywood actors Matt Damon and Elsa Pataky but was rather more subdued for the Melbourne Cup.

A Birdcage stalwart in former foreign minister Julie Bishop was supposed to be in attendance but cancelled due to an undisclosed emergency.

We spotted former MasterChef host Melissa Leong, model Adut Akech, racing royalty Kate Waterhouse, former rugby league player Anthony Minichiello and Triangl bikini co-founder Erin Deering at the marquee.


Tennis player Thanasi Kokkinakis was putting the fizz into the Schweppes marquee in the Birdcage, enjoying the day before getting ready to leave Australia for the Davis Cup.

Kokkinakis told CBD he is keen to repeat his doubles victory at the Australian Open this year with Nick Kyrgios.

“I don’t know if Nick is going to be healthy. He has had a bit of a knee injury, so I don’t know if he will be able to play. If he can play, we will do it for sure. We have not played since we won it.”

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