On the first Tuesday in November each year, Australia stands still to watch a horse race, whether at the course itself, on television at home, or in a bar with friends. This event is known as ‘The Race That Stops A Nation’ and is, of course, the Melbourne Cup.
The most famous of all of Australia’s race meets, the Melbourne Cup continues to delight, enthral and fascinate, all at the same time. At Motive Travel, we’re big fans of any horse race, including the equally-awesome Cox Plate, which is why we have been organising tours to them for the best part of 40 years. This November, we’ll be heading on down to the Flemington Racecourse to catch the best of the action, and we want you to come with us.
Before you take a look at what we have in store for you, though, here are three fascinating facts about the Melbourne Cup that you can amaze your friends and family with.
A pittance of a prize
When Archer won the first ever Melbourne Cup way back in 1861, his winnings weren’t quite as lavish as those a winner would take home today. As the valiant steed crossed the line, he picked up GB£170 and a gold watch (the quality of which is undisclosed!).
When Prince of Penzance romped home victorious in the 2015 event, he took home an enormous AU$3.6 million.
When Prince of Penzance romped home victorious in the 2015 event, he took home an enormous AU$3.6 million. That’s a lot of gold watches!
Don’t phrase me
Everyone in Australia knows what the phrase ‘The Race That Stops A Nation’ means, even if they aren’t big fans of the horses. It’s synonymous with the Melbourne Cup, so anyone with bright ideas of using it for something else would find themselves looking pretty foolish.
Even so, that hasn’t stopped the Victoria Racing Club from trademarking the phrase, just in case somebody decides to try it.
Photo finishes. When one has to be used to determine the winner, you just know that you’ve witnessed an exciting race, as two (or more!) brave steeds cross the line at near-precisely the same time. The technology of today can narrow it down to mere micro-millimetres, but that wasn’t the case in 1948.
During that race, Dark Marne pursued Rimfire along the final furlong, crossing the finishing line, seemingly at exactly the same moment. A look at the photograph was required, and it appeared that Rimfire had sneaked it by a nose. He was given the victory, but it was found upon later inspection that the camera had been improperly set up, and Dark Marne was the true victor. Even so, the result stood – boo!