Melbourne Cup Race
The Melbourne Cup Race is Australia's foremost horse racing event held every first Tuesday of November at around 2:50pm. The event is conducted by the Victoria Racing Club on the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne.
It's like the United States' Triple Crown and Japan's Japan Cup all rolled into one. In fact, the Melbourne Cup is so popular it is referred to as "The Race that stops a nation." The day of the Melbourne Cup is a public holiday in Melbourne and some parts of Victoria.
Every year, thousands of spectators watch the Melbourne Cup. In 2003, 122,736 horse racing fans trooped to the Flemington Racecourse to witness Makybe Diva win her first of three Melbourne Cups. This set Australia's record for the highest number of spectators in a Melbourne Cup.
The Melbourne Cup is a race for thoroughbreds three-year-old and up. It is held over a distance of 3,200 meters and is also known as the richest and most prestigious "two-mile" handicap in the world. It is also considered as among the richest turf races in the world with the prize money amounting to AUD 3.6 million plus a trophy worth around AUD 125,000.
The first ever Melbourne Cup was held on November 7, 1861 and was won by Archer who also won the following year. It was originally held at a distance of over two miles (about 3,218 meters). In 1972, after Australia adopted the metric system, the current race distance of 3,200 meters was established. This reduced the distance by 18.688 meters (61.31 ft), and Rain Lover's 1968 race record of 3:19.1 was adjusted to 3:17.9 seconds.
Today, Kingston Rule (the 1990 winner) hold's the Melbourne Cup record with a time of 3:16.3 seconds.
The first Melbourne Cup was held on a Thursday. Fourteen years later, in 1875, it was held on a Tuesday and has done so ever since. In 1840, Flemington Racecourse hosted the Melbourne Cup and since then has been its home.
Apart from the race itself, the spectators add color to the event. Many fans come in traditional and formal race day wear. Substantial prizes are even awarded to the best-dressed man and woman. So it's not surprising to see the women wearing colorful and intricate hats while the men are garbed in suits and ties, complete with a Cornflower brooch, the symbol of the Melbourne Cup.