Capital Day | The Dominion Post - Stacey Wood   Photographer: Craig Simcox

IT TAKES a lot of time and effort to prepare the prize for Wellington’s horseracing event of the year. Jeweller Ian Douglas and his team at Village Goldsmith have been crafting the Wellington Cup trophies since 1998 and have the process down to a fine art.

Three trophies are needed every year – the larger cup for the owner of the winning horse, plus smaller versions for the jockey and trainer.

The owner’s cup stands 28 centimetres tall, and weighs more than 2.5 kilograms. It is made from sterling silver plated in a heavy layer of 18-carat gold.

Mr Douglas says it takes a high level of skill to craft the cup over several months.

Dan Palmer is the master craftsman in charge of the metal spinning, engraving and gold plating, ‘‘as well as doing the hard work of actually building it’’.

Alongside Mr Douglas and Mr Palmer are a team of jewellers, whose specific jobs remain secret, to stop competitors trying to steal their tricks of the trade.

Their work is modelled on the original Wellington Cup trophy from the late 1800s, which was much larger and worth about $150,000.  Today’s trophy set is worth about $22,000, Mr Douglas says – but it is not for sale, no matter how much you admire its beauty.

‘‘We had an elderly couple come into the store after admiring it in the cabinet and the gentleman asked how much it was – and we explained that it was not for sale.

‘‘He said, ‘But I want it’, and I said, ‘Well, you’ll have to win the race then,’ and he said, ‘But it’s beautiful, I want to buy it’.’’

Mr Douglas says it is the only ‘‘gold’’ racing trophy in New Zealand.

As well as the trophy and the prestige, the Wellington Cup offers a top prize of $200,000.


Source: Capital Day The Dominion Post Article: The fine art in racing’s golden cup