By Kristine Jones
Most racing people and certainly a huge number from the non-racing set will always remember that iconic win at the 1983 Melbourne Cup, when the New Zealand horse all the way from Waverley ran the race of his life.
Running from last when only hundreds of metres from home he weaved himself to the front and ran away from his rivals so convincingly that he was almost slowing down as he hit the winning line.
Kiwi jockey Jimmy Cassidy was aboard and some would say that this win set his career alight from then.
That was of course Kiwi, owned and trained by Waverley farming couple Snow Lupton, or ‘Snowy’ as he was more commonly called, and his wife Anne. Back home several months before, Kiwi had shown what he was up for it when winning the Wellington Cup in January.
Later that year Snow nominated the rangy chestnut for the Melbourne Cup and set off to Sandastre Lodge in Mornington which would become their base in the following weeks.
Much has been written about the Luptons and Kiwi's win and subsequent Melbourne Cup challenges, in fact the book Kiwi contains a lot of details of those times.
I don't wish to emulate what has already been written but to capture some of the family involvement and where they went from there, after that stunning 1983 win. Some would say it made the family famous, famous in Waverley circles, famous in international circles, but for the Luptons, Snow and Anne it made little difference to them or their life on the farm at Lakeside near Waverley.
The cup itself and his horse were much more important to Snow than the cheque for $195,000 that was the winning stake for the cup in those days. In an interview at the after-race function for the winning connections Snow was asked by a reporter “wasn't he excited and what was he going to do with his winnings?”
The response from the very quietly spoken and conservative Snow was that he hadn't really thought about it - “and it might come in a bit handy!”
But while he was very happy to have won the cup itself, the money was very secondary to that. Those post-race comments were to set the pace of many a television and radio interview.
Even an advertisement was made by PostShop featuring Snow and Kiwi on the footpath outside the local branch. The family were inundated with mail, Snow never quite got over what all the fuss was really about, mail arrived by the bag load, often addressed to Kiwi Lupton, of Waverley - NZ Post had no trouble finding the recipient.
On occasions unannounced visitors would appear at the Luptons' Lakeside home, someone or other asking about the cup, could they see it, could they see the horse? Snow never really quite got over other peoples fascinations, for what was for him just his horse, out in the paddock.
Nickie Andrews, eldest daughter of Snow and Anne, shared some moments and some history with me recently. Nickie was a young adult and with her sister Gillian had been shouted a trip to Melbourne to see Kiwi race, their brother Warwick staying back at Lakeside to look after the family farm.
We watched some video footage, and there were definitely a few moments that must be shared. One of these included Snow's late arrival at the after-race, the TV cameras filming live when Anne and the girls arrived, so when Snow eventually turned up, having been busy feeding and settling Kiwi for the night, a mock entrance had to be staged, music replayed, cameras whirred and that was some two hours later.
To Snow, the horse came first - as Nickie said it was something that they were all brought up with. “Feed the animals before yourself.”
Another vivid recollection of that 1983 Melbourne Cup win was the seating arrangements on the day. Snow had been at Mornington with Kiwi for several weeks building up to the event, while Anne had taken the two girls on tour with a few Waverley supporters. The tour had taken them to the Cox Plate and Derby Day and would culminate on Melbourne Cup day. When Kiwi stormed across the line, one could only imagine the furore in the public stand between the three Lupton females and their Waverley supporters, someone went for the police when they realised who they were, and before they knew it a police escort was marching them into the birdcage to meet up with Snow.
Nickie's account of the barrage of Press and photographers immediately after the presentation speeches was just something else to experience, there were offers to fly them off the course by helicopter, but as the NZ television news showed that night, there they were victorious, Snow carrying the garland of flowers while the girls got back on the bus.
Back home at Waverley a few hundred people had turned out at the Clarendon Hotel, a hugely popular place on Melbourne Cup day especially when one of your own is about to show the rest of the world a thing or two.
Shortly after Kiwi stormed home, Snow was on the phone and a bar tab was set up for a celebration that may yet be the biggest seen in the hotel for many a year to come. Warwick Lupton, being head of the house for the time, had a huge celebratory night, only realising the next day that he had in fact broken his leg - though his recollection at that point was a little hazy.
Snow Lupton continued farming at Lakeside, riding trackwork in his 70s before passing away at the age of 83. From a family of eight, the Luptons were horse mad and racing mad. These days Warwick Lupton lives on the original property Lakeside, though his interests are not in that of horse racing, but boat racing - high-end, high speed style. Nickie and Gillian with their families live in the Waverley area. Snow and Anne's granddaughter Jamiee-Lee recently obtained a Permit to Train and follows in her grandfather's footsteps as the current Lupton trainer of the future. She has a big lead to follow!
This year was the 30th anniversary of Kiwi's Melbourne Cup and the Otaki-Maori Racing Club's Melbourne Cup raceday celebrated the event with a commemorative race in his honour and members of Snow and Anne's family on course.
To add to the occasion, Kiwi memorabilia including his 1983 Melbourne Cup and Wellington Cup were on display.