Champion jockey Hugh Bowman is set to accompany the Melbourne Cup trophy to his home town in country NSW ahead of his latest bid to win the country's most iconic race for the first time.
Bowman's home town, Dunedoo, was on Monday announced as one of 37 destinations for this year's Melbourne Cup Tour which will also include stops in the United Kingdom and Ireland and South Korea for the first time.
Bowman has won some of the world's top races, most notably three Cox Plates on champion Winx and last year's Japan Cup on Cheval Grand, but a Melbourne Cup has eluded him.
Bowman and his wife Christine, who was a trackwork rider for Irish horse Media Puzzle when he won the Cup in 2002, are among this year's Cup tour ambassadors along with 2015 Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne.
"The Cup is going to Dunedoo, my home town in central New South Wales, so the plan will be to go with the Cup when it visits Dunedoo," Bowman said at Monday's launch in Melbourne.
He said to win the Cup had been a childhood dream.
"I had many a sleepless night growing up on the farm in Dunedoo wondering what might happen one day if I could even ride in the race, let alone actually win it," he said.
"If it wasn't to happen then there would be no regrets with me personally in the wonderful opportunities I've had as a jockey and some of the wonderful horses I've been associated with.
"But I have had the privilege of riding in it many times and I can honestly say having ridden all over the world, there's no race quite like it in the build-up towards it and the sheer public attention, not only here in Australia but throughout the world.
"It's a very special occasion simply to be a part of it and ride in the race. And to win it would be a dream.
"If it's meant to be it will be and if not there'll be no regrets."
The Cup Tour is in its 16th year and Bowman said it was a great initiative to take the trophy to country areas across Australia and also abroad, with the Dunedoo visit set for September 4.
"I think it gives everyone the opportunity to feel close to what is an iconic figure in our society," he said.
"So to take the Cup to my home place in Dunedoo, personally it gives me great pride.
"But I think on a more broader basis it's great for the community. It's great for the country communities in NSW and Australia, and it's a great initiative from the VRC and it means a lot to everyone."
CUP TOUR DESTINATIONS IN 2018
New South Wales - Sydney, Louth, Bega, Dunedoo
Western Australia - Perth, Boyup Brook
New Zealand - Auckland
Northern Territory - Darwin, Katherine
Australian Capital Territory - Canberra
Queensland - Brisbane, Mount Perry, Mission Beach, Gold Coast, Goondiwindi, Birdsville
South Australia - Adelaide, Mount Barker
Tasmania - Hobart
Victoria - Melbourne, Nagambie, Shepparton, Skipton, Wodonga, Portland, Camperdown, Stawell, Wangaratta, Goornong
United Kingdom - London, Newbury, Somerset, Newmarket
Ireland - County Kildare, Closutton, Owning Hill
South Korea - Seoul
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