IT TOOK 22 hours of steady hand work, but one local man has made his mark on the race that stops the nation.
As anxious punters await the outcome of the 2016 Emirates Melbourne Cup, Tamworth engraver Ron Croxon has already been to Sydney, where he engraved the trophy for next year's event.
Chosen from a field across the nation, Mr Croxon's skills in traditional hand engraving are rare and highly sought after.
Still coming to terms with the reality of his latest gig, he said he kept it under his hat until the job was done and waited for the photo evidence.
"It still freaks me out, it's like winning the lottery," he said.
"I didn't want to tell anyone unless I had the photos to back it up."
With the cup engraved a year in advance as part of promotional commitments before the big race, Mr Croxon was asked to submit samples of his work about six months ago.
"I'm part of a few who do what is called traditional hand engraving; I use little chisels and things, not a machine," he said.
Mr Croxon was sent up a replica of the cup and was told to engrave it how he believed it should be done.
Using a technique which involves stippling the lettering, he said the engraving has a frosted finish.
"When it's frosted there's a really strong contrast, " he said.
"It never wears and always looks the same."
It wasn’t until some time later he was called and offered the honour of engraving the Melbourne Cup, which he said was made of 18 carat gold and weighed about 1.6 kilograms.
“I went down to Sydney on the Tuesday morning after the long weekend. It took me all of Tuesday and all of Wednesday, around 22 hours," he said.
"I over-thought the whole thing, I was almost physically ill when we went to start.
"During the day little tour groups would be coming through and watching me work, asking me questions.
"I was really sick with worry, but I never made a mistake - to me it looked perfect."
Mr Croxon has been engraving for 20 years. It originally started as a hobby while he worked as a construction foreman in the city.
Demand for his work from across the nation became so great, Mr Croxon turned the hobby into a full time business.