It’s not every day you see a trophy with a 24-carat gold-plated comfort shoe as its centerpiece.
But the Golden Slipper trophy perfectly encapsulates what the richest two-year-old horse race in the world is all about.
It’s worth $23,000, includes the best Italian marble and has a detachable golden bow brooch that’s encrusted with 74 diamonds.
And it’s also a labour of love for Victorian silversmith David Russ.
“You’ve just got to take your time with it and make sure you get it right,” he told AAP.
“It’s one of those trophies that once people see it, they identify it with the race.”
He has been tasked with crafting the trophy over the past three years, and makes some of the biggest horse racing trophies for the packed Group One racing calendar.
The Sydney Cup, the Doncaster Mile, Caulfield Cup, The BMW and the Golden Rose keep the one-man operation busy.
The Slipper trophy takes about three weeks to make and involves plating, engraving as well as the construction of a marble base.
And thanks to Russ’ wife Karen, even more effort is spent on the nine-carat gold bow that detaches from the slipper.
“My wife’s a jeweller so she plays a big part in the brooch and she was also the one that redesigned it,” he said.
He also designs the trainer and jockey trophies – and for the Slipper in particular, makes a trophy for the breeder.
Away from the workshop, Russ also sports an interest in the racing industry.
“I’m into thoroughbreds a little bit, my in-laws are small-time breeders in thoroughbreds so they were pretty stoked when I got into the trophy side of things,” he said.
While you can’t study trophy making, Russ honed his skills by restoring antiques, breathing new life into ornate silver teapots and intricate helmets.
His workshop in the northwest Victorian town of St Arnaud is full of oddities waiting to be restored.
But trophies are his biggest business, with many part-owners in successful racehorses asking him to build replica momentos.
Article from JustHorseRacing.com.au