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Melbourne Cup an iconic event: Williams

AAP logoAAP 1/11/2016 Megan Neil

Lloyd Williams' life-long obsession with the Melbourne Cup began at an early age and hasn't waned.

Nor has the 76-year-old's love of Melbourne diminished.

Williams was extolling the virtues of the Melbourne Cup after winning a record fifth as an owner.

Brought up in a Catholic Melbourne family of publicans and punters, Williams can remember listening to the Melbourne Cup from the age of five.

"It's always been a part of my life," he said.

"I've dreamed about it."

One of Australia's most successful businessmen, Williams developed Crown Casino in the 1990s, a venue he labels an iconic entertainment complex for Melbourne.

"But the Melbourne Cup means more to me than that.

"I think that the Melbourne Cup, it's always been that it stopped the nation. But now it probably stops the world."

A former Victoria Racing Club board member, Williams praised the club for taking the Cup to the international stage, after struggling to even attract a broadcaster in 1990.

"They've done a wonderful job of taking this race to the world.

"It's a race of $6 million in prize money and the fact that it's a two-mile handicap, 3200m handicap, everyone on the other side of the world talks about it."

The proud Melburnian also praises the Melbourne Cup week's $400 million in economic benefit for Victoria.

"Things like the Grand Prix have been brought here, but they've been brought here at a cost.

"This event is totally home-grown and they keep building it."

Williams cannot think of another racing event worldwide that comes anything near it.

"It's a terribly important event. It's an iconic event.

"I love to have the opportunity of participating."

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