Danny O

Danny O'Brien and his family with the Melbourne Cup (Image: @Flemington VRC Twitter)

'Ky' return reminds of Cup's reach

Kyabram has genuine claims on being, per capita, the highest-achieving sporting town in Australia.

Despite being home to just 7000, local historians say it has produced 36 VFL/AFL footballers, including Garry Lyon, Dick Clay and Brett Deledio.

Test cricketers Jim Higgs and Matthew Elliott, champion cyclist Stephen Pate and netballer Cynna Neele also hail from the town built off the dairy and fruit industries.

It wasn't a town generally associated with horse racing. But it has a strong link now.

Danny O'Brien catapulted himself up the list of famous products from the northern Victorian town, smack bang between Shepparton and Echuca, when he prepared Vow And Declare to win this year's Lexus Melbourne Cup.

His return there on Thursday was a sweet reminder of the cultural significance of the 'race of the people'.

WATCH: O'Brien's trip back to Kyambram

Those who in the last year or two have questioned its status as precisely that could have done with a trip there.

They would have seen hundreds of school children hanging off O'Brien's every word when he returned to his old primary school, St Augustine's.

They would have seen the main street lined with proud Kyabramites when he and his family were driven along it in a vintage sports car, with his old Grade 3 teacher, Mr O'Meara, at the wheel.

They would have seen the eyes of those at the local aged care facility light up when O'Brien took the Melbourne Cup there before attending a function at the local sports club.

More than 100 people arranged for the afternoon off work to attend the function that was the final stop in a tour hastily arranged by a group of locals, proud not only of their town but the affection that O'Brien has for it.

No other race on the calendar would have generated the effort that went into Thursday's homecoming.

It was also a stark reminder of the reach and love for the trophy that some have suggested has lost touch with the everyday Australian.

Anyone at Kyabram on Thursday will attest that could not be further from the truth.

WATCH: Vow And Declare's Melbourne Cup win