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Member Darrin Hartshorn (left) ran the modified Calcutta auction (table sweep)

The Carbine Club of Tokyo finished 2020 with a flourish in holding a well attended Melbourne Cup Luncheon on 3 November. Nearly 90 enthusiasts of the great race headed to the 51st floor of Roppongi Hills Club, Tokyo, to appreciate what for many would be their sole social gathering for the year and dig deeper than ever to support Paralympics Australia, the cause selected for the event.

The luncheon was a tremendous success, raising the Japanese equivalent of around AU$6,800. 

This was an excellent result given that the number of attendees was around a third fewer than that of the 2019 Melbourne Cup gathering. This owed to local social distancing rules for indoor gatherings in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. To be clear, the requirements were minor inconveniences given that so many people in Australia and elsewhere endured a plethora of draconian measures and that COVID-19 claimed so many lives.


The year started out with high hopes for building on the momentum of the Rugby World Cup. We aimed to hold Olympics- and Paralympics-related luncheons and entertained other possibilities. We also sought membership candidates to expand the club modestly in view of founding members John Gorman, Travis Brown, and Andrew Cox departing for posts elsewhere internationally and going on the overseas member list. That also meant that we needed a new president to take the reins from Andrew, who relocated to Singapore as Meat & Livestock Australia’s General Manager for International Markets. Andrew did much along with predecessor Andrew Peyton to put the club on a solid footing.


It was in the process of planning for the March 10 Annual General meeting that Japan became among many nations struggling to deal with a COVID-19 outbreak that the World Health Organization soon defined as a pandemic. We therefore set up a Zoom link so members could attend online or person. Patrick Sullivan was duly elected President at this gathering. As he quipped in his welcome speech at the 2020 Melbourne Cup luncheon, he attributed his selection to the club running out of Andrews.


The new members we selected were Ross Cooper, Luke Eginton, Frank Foley, Frankie Hart, Anthony Head, and Darren Morrish, all of whom are very well connected in Tokyo’s business community. Some were already decent sponsors of our luncheons, and all had attended most of our events.

Several weeks after the meeting, Japan postponed the 2020 Games to 2021, ending immediate planning for related luncheons. For the next few months we watched and waited like most people everywhere for light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel before setting up a new member gathering. We held one social on Zoom, but as any user of that and similar platforms can attest, they are anything but ideal for camaraderie. We therefore decided to hold a new member welcome evening on 30 June and hand out coveted Carbine ties.


A couple of months later, Patrick Sullivan and Secretary Tim Barnstable set about planning a Melbourne Cup luncheon, exploring viability and social distancing requirements with a couple of venues and beginning to plan every last detail so everything would work out perfectly, as indeed it ultimately did.


Once convinced everything could go ahead, they got going. Lynne Anderson, CEO of the Australian Paralympic Committee, agreed to send a special video message for the event and a stirring video promoting Australia’s desire to participate in the 2021 Games. Club member Darrin Hartshorn contacted Craig Williams, who rode Vow and Declare to victory in the 2019 Melbourne Cup. Craig graciously sent us a video message. The videos proved powerfully persuasive to the luncheon attendees, and made encouraging people to part with their money for a great cause immeasurably simpler.


Patrick took on the emcee role for a second straight year, just as successfully, adding to countless hours he and Tim spent in arranging so much. It is also worth noting that Tokyo member Leon van Houwelingen put in yet another sterling effort to engage with sponsors and ensure that they obtained satisfactory exposure. Member Emily Downey dealt with several groups that have traditionally patronized the cup lunch in Tokyo.

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Fashions on the Field Contests for ladies and gentlemen proved highlights of the day

The Tokyo club looks forward to better times in 2021 (don’t we all?), and will soon start planning Games-related and other luncheons. Auguring well for the future, Sports Travel & Hospitality Japan approached Patrick soon after the Melbourne Cup about significantly stepping up its sponsorship next year, which will greatly benefit the causes we support. That company is Japan’s top provider of sports hospitality and spectator experiences. It is a joint venture between STH Group and JTB, Japan’s largest travel agent. We and STH Japan are very excited about prospects for that relationship, and are ironing out details.

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Treasurer Tim Barnstable (left) and President Patrick Sullivan with a banner from sponsor Treasury Wine Estates while setting up for the Melbourne Cup luncheon