There is no other horse race in Australian history that garners the level of prestige that the Melbourne Cup does. For over 150 years, ‘The Race That Stops A Nation’ has captivated not just the good folk of the land Down Under, but racing fans the world over. Run at the legendary Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday in November, the Melbourne Cup is open to horses aged three years and above, as long as they meet the qualifying standard. A flat race, the Melbourne Cup is contested over 3,200 metres (just under two miles) and, with prize money of over AU6.2 million, it’s little surprise that it’s the world’s richest handicap horserace.
In fact, there are only two races that offer more prize money than the Melbourne Cup – the Japan Cup, and the Dubai World Cup. The winner of the Melbourne Cup pockets $3.6 million in prize money, so you can imagine that there is some serious cash flying around on race day. We at Motive Travel can organise tailor-made packages for this most fantastic of events – read on to find out more!
Know your history
An event such as the Melbourne Cup doesn’t become as well-known as it does without a little history behind it – and history is what the Melbourne Cup has in spades. First conceived in 1854, the Victorian Turf Club came up with the idea that a spring race would be more popular than the current autumn ones, as the surrounding countryside would look its finest, the turf good going and the weather unpredictable, making for some incredible races. The inaugural Melbourne Cup took place way back in 1861, with the top horses from around Australia taking part. The winner was a steed named Archer from New South Wales – more on this wonder horse later.
As Melbourne was growing richer from the gold rush, and the subsequent land boom of the latter half of the 19th century, the Melbourne Cup could only continue to grow in popularity. Indeed, it was as long ago as 1875 that the city of Melbourne took a holiday for the running of the Cup, and the rest of Australia may as well take one on the day too, so much attention does the event attract.
Facts of the Melbourne Cup matter
Like all long-running sports events, the Melbourne Cup is littered with interesting facts and figures across its history. Did you know, for example, that even World War II, which took place from 1939-45, couldn’t stop the running of the Cup, even when a whole host of other sporting events were cancelled? (These include the FIFA World Cup and the Olympic Games). Let’s take a look at a few other monumental Melbourne Cup facts:
- We’ve already talked about Archer, the inaugural winning horse of the Melbourne Cup. Want to know something even more impressive about this horse? Aeroplanes didn’t exist in those days, so Archer walked from his hometown of Sydney to Melbourne for the race (nearly 900 kilometres as the crow flies), then won it.
- Gambling, of course, is big business at the Melbourne Cup, with most of the nation seemingly looking to have a punt. Less than half an hour after the race is over and your betting slip is good for nothing but the waste paper bin, you can try your luck for next year’s event. Why not?
- Legendary Cup winner, Phar Lap, had a big heart – both literally and figuratively. The equine exocet had a heart that weighed 6.2 kilograms, with the average horse heart coming in at less than half that.
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