Cup Day- the race that stops a nation. So they say.
The Melbourne Cup, a race for three year (and older) horses is a traditional day off for the majority of Victorians, if not Australians.
I have no idea why.
Held every year on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington Racecourse, Cup Day has been an official public holiday since 1877. This year the race had about 20 horses and prize money of over six million dollars. The race is run over 3, 200 metres (2 miles) and horses from around the globe are flown into Australia for the Cup.
The first race was in 1861, and won by Archer, who also won it the next year too. He may have won it the year after as well if his owner had submitted the entry form on time; as it was he didn’t, and the horse wasn’t allowed to race.
Phar Lap is the most famous winner of the Melbourne Cup, in 1930 and claimed by Australians as one of their own but in reality is a New Zealand born horse. Other famous winners of the Melbourne Cup include:
Peter Pan 1932/1934
Rain Lover 1968/ 1969
Think Big 1974/1975
Makybe Diva 2003/ 2004/ 2005 (the only horse to win three years in a row.)
Each year 300-400 horses nominate to run in the race but only 24 are selected. It costs $50, 805 to enter a horse into the Melbourne Cup. Winners of the previous year’s Cup, the Cox Plate or the Caulfield Cup gain automatic entry into the race.
At the races there is much celebration and dressing up. Hats and fashion are a feature of the race, there is even a Fashions on the Field competition.
Many workplaces around Victoria will have a Cup Sweep where people will buy a ticket and be randomly allocated a horse number. They’ll then follow the race to see if their horse wins. Of course people will also place bets at the track with bookies, or with the TAB.
As it is a public holiday many Victorians, and those from interstate, will go to the races. Others will hold barbeques and picnics, or if at work participate in a Cup Sweep. It is not uncommon for television sets to be turned on just before 3pm to watch the race, whether at home or at work.
By this point in time you're dying to see the real thing aren't you? Go on, go and look at the running of this year's Melbourne Cup.