HBA Media celebrates a five-year association with the Lexus Melbourne Cup with thanks to a Phar Lap poem

5th November 2018 – The Lexus Melbourne Cup, which takes place tomorrow Tuesday 6th November, is a raceday that transcends traditional sporting events with the combination of racing, fashion, celebrity and entertainment. This year’s event marks HBA Media’s fifth consecutive-yearly association with the iconic event, which started with a Phar Lap poem!

Having enjoyed his 1989 debut at the Melbourne Cup as a back-packer, Henry Birtles – CEO of HBA Media – returned in 2012 with a media mission.
Armed with a heartfelt poem that he penned on his original trip and dedicated to the legendary Phar Lap, Henry delivered the lines at the annual Melbourne Cup Lunch, which was hosted by the now Chairman of the Victoria Racing Club, Amanda Elliot. The poem was a success and so too was HBA Media’s strategy on international media rights distribution, which saw an active partnership come under starters orders in 2014.

Tomorrow, HBA Media will be responsible for the global distribution of a bespoke Melbourne Cup international programme. The sixty-minute show will be distributed to over 10 major networks including Eurosport, FOX Sports, Match TV Russia and Shanghai TV.

Henry Birtles, Chief Executive of HBA Media, said: “I love the Melbourne Cup – it truly is a race that stops the nation and I am immensely proud that HBA Media has had such a longstanding and colourful association with what really can be described as a sporting phenomenon.

“Oddly, the title ‘Racing Poet’ that was bestowed upon me by Cheltenham Racecourse used to be the source of frustration as it seemingly overshadowed what I consider to be far more productive for the sport of racing – our work here at HBA Media. That said, I must confess my passion, understanding and objectives for international horse racing was very much unearthed with the Phar Lap poem that I wrote on the streets of Sydney as a bike courier in 1989.

“This month, HBA Media will continue to deliver the highest quality production, content and coverage for our International shows, which have a strong appeal to an extended international sports fanbase. We then look forward to creating a thrilling campaign for the much-anticipated Pegasus World Cup in the new year.”


He ran for a country struck down by depression
adored by his people, a national possession
When ‘The Red’ hit the front their despair would subside
replaced by a feeling of wonder and pride;
for not just a Horse this ray of red light
but inspiring and lifting, a reason to fight
He humbled his rivals with power unseen
this titanic steed, no more a pipe dream
With the contempt of a champion, he toyed with his field
when burdened with lead this horse would not yield
and after his ‘Cup’ grown men were seen crying,
Sixteen months later their hero lay dying
though not before venturing to far away lands
for the world to run with him; the history still stands
of how Phar Lap destroyed them with a breathtaking run
and the world stood in awe of Australia’s great son
Oh that final bold surge on the Mexican sand
he vanquished great horses from many a strange land
With might and guns blazing he defied all the odds
and now up in Heaven he runs for the Gods

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