THEY could have been excused for carrying on like kings of the world.
But part-owners Jamie Lovett and Luke Murrell still felt like a couple of battling Hunter punters as they rubbed shoulders with racing royalty on Tuesday night, celebrating Protectionist’s win in the $6.2million Melbourne Cup at Flemington a few hours earlier.
‘‘Good day. Top day,’’ Lovett told the Newcastle Herald from the first of several parties celebrating the five-year-old stallion’s four-length victory.
‘‘I was just saying to the boys, ‘I’ve had my last champagne. Let’s go and have a Tooheys New back at the Crown Metropol’.
‘‘A few of the blokes were saying, ‘Come on, let’s go. We’ll get the last train,’ but the lady from the VRC said ‘No, we’ll organise you a car. You’re not taking that cup on the train.’’’
Lovett, a former Lakes United footballer, and Murrell, a former first-grade cricketer from Maitland, formed the Rutherford-based Australian Bloodstock thoroughbred racing syndicate four years ago with the distinct goal of finding a horse to win the race that stops a nation.
Their first Cup runner, Illustrious Blue, finished ninth in 2010.
They went even closer the following year when Lucas Cranach, a German raider just like Protectionist, ran third behind champion French stayer Dunaden after being injured on the eve of the race.
‘‘In 2011 with Lucas, that really got the fire in the belly,’’ Lovett said.
‘‘It’s a bit of a relief, actually, because I thought Protectionist was the right horse and I thought he’d run well, but you don’t ever expect to win by four lengths, you know.
‘‘He’s a very good horse, so it’s not totally unexpected that he could win a race like that, but how do you say he’s going to win a Melbourne Cup by four? You’d be kidding yourself.’’
Lovett was accompanied by his wife, Kellie, and three of their four children – 14-year-old son Elye and daughters Piper, 12, and Remy, 8.
Eight-month-old Andie stayed at home with other family members. She will have to settle for watching replays when she is old enough to comprehend the magnitude of the achievement.
Murrell shared the experience with his wife, Sharyn, and brother Ben.
Lovett said he and Murrell and their entourage had booked return flights on Wednesday ‘‘because we didn’t want to jinx ourselves’’. Those have been rescheduled for later in the week.
‘‘We’ve got a few little commitments we probably should go to, so we’ll see how it goes,’’ Lovett said.
Murrell said he and Lovett owned a 60 per stake in Protectionist.
One of the other syndicate members is a man named John Hunter, from Coonabarabran. The other shares belong to two Sydney-based Irish brothers.
Even after trainer Andreas Wohler and jockey Ryan Moore take their cut of the $3.6million first prize purse, that still leaves plenty of spoils for the owners to share.
‘‘You have a good horse like Lucas Cranach and you’re always half-thinking what could have been, so to get another shot at it with a horse that was completely sound all the way through and had a bit of luck, it’s more a feeling of relief for us,’’ Murrell said.
‘‘We obviously run it as a business, but we take it personally when the horses don’t do well, and we wear our heart on our sleeves a bit, so as much as we’re happy for ourselves, I’m happy for the guys that are in with us.
‘‘They back us completely, so it’s a good feeling to see them so happy.
‘‘It’s obviously going to be very good for the business going forward, but not a lot changes for us. We’ll just keep trying to find a good horse and keep trying to win these better races.’’
Murrell said Protectionist would now be trained at Broadmeadow by fellow Novocastrian Kris Lees, whose Cup runner, Lucia Valentina, ran 13th.
‘‘On the advice of Andreas, he’ll probably only have a light autumn with probably a lead-up run then a BMW and a Sydney Cup, with the prizemoney going up,’’ Murrell said.
‘‘That will be all we’ll see of him then we’ll come back and try and do it all again next year.’’
Murrell said Lees and his connections had joined them for celebrations on Tuesday night.
‘‘We don’t really know what’s in store because we’ve never done it before,’’ Murrell said.
‘‘It will all be a bit new to blokes like us.
‘‘I’ve got my brother here and Jamie’s got his kids with him, so it’s something they’ll all remember. It’s something a bit special.’’