Shiny new trophy for Manawatu Cup

For years Royden Williams photographed literally thousands of presentations to winning connections, especially around the Central Districts.

Now he's about to change things up.

He's bought a glass trophy from a specialist outlet in Florida which will be gifted to the winning owners of the Manawatu Cup at Palmerston North this Thursday, December 8.

Why? Because it's a race he's particularly fond of.

"The stake money for the Manawatu Cup is not much more than an average Friday night at Alexandra Park but to us in the CD it's a race that carries some prestige and I think the race deserves a trophy that the winning owner can be proud of," says the recently-retired Williams.

The idea came from a presentation he photographed more than a decade ago.

"I was working for Race Images in 2011 when Distill won the Levin Classic and remember the look of delight when Roydon Bergerson was given a beautiful art glass trophy."

The trophy measures 29 cm high and weighs 4.5 kilograms - and yes its new owners will get to keep it.

"After twelve years on the job, I’ve seen Cups presented, owners have their photo taken, and the trophy goes back on the shelf... I thought this is something they can look at to remember the night their horse won the Manawatu Cup."

The Manawatu Cup has been held under a few different guises over the years. In 1918/19 it was known as the Manawatu Trotting Club Gold Cup, then from 1922/23 onwards it became the Manawatu Trotting Club Cup until 1929/30 before changing to the Manawatu Trotting Club Plate.

For 1930/31 and 1931/32 the race was just called the Manawatu Trotting Club Handicap.

The Manawatu Trotting Cup was then raced from 1932-33 through to the early fifties before becoming the Manawatu Handicap until the mid 1970s. In the 1963/64 season the ‘Cup’ was run, and then re-introduced in the mid 1970s.

Among its most famous winners was Blossom Lady in 1989. The 1992 New Zealand Cup winner had strong links to Palmerston North, having been owned locally and then qualifying at Manawatu Raceway in 1987.

The defending champion is Betterzippit, trained and driven by Sean McCaffrey.

This year's generous donation is unlikely to be a one off.

'I'm intending to buy a similar trophy for next year."

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