It's Melbourne Cup Time!

The race that stops the nation….Melbourne Cup is an Australian tradition and one that is responsible for halting work at least for the duration of the race throughout the whole of Australia. 

Australians love a punt on the races – and Melbourne Cup is a lure for even those of us who hardly ever put on a bet.  In 2012 a record $500 million dollars was bet on the Melbourne Cup race at the TAB alone.  It is the richest 2 mile handicap race in the world.

Melbourne Cup is held on the first Tuesday in November at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne and is always the 7th race of the 10 races scheduled on the day.  Initially it was run on a Thursday, but this was changed to Tuesdays in 1875 and has remained that way ever since.  The first race was held in 1861 but it wasn’t until 1877 that it became a public holiday.  It was the only sporting event that was not halted during WW1 and WW2.

A bit of Melbourne Cup Trivia:

  • The youngest ever winning jockey was only 13 years old – Peter St. Albans in 1876
  • The first horse to win the coveted Melbourne Cup trophy was Archer. Who incidentally walked all the way from Terara in NSW to Melbourne to make the race! - A distance of over 500 miles.
  • No horse has ever won from Barrier 18 – so perhaps factor this in when placing your bet!
  • Michelle Payne is the only female jockey to have won the Melbourne Cup and she did this in 2015.
  • 35 out of 150 Favourites have won het Melbourne Cup – 23%. 41% of Favourites have placed.
  • The smallest field of Melbourne Cup runners was in 1863 when just 7 horses competed.
  • The largest field of runners was in 1890 when a whopping 39 horses vied for the title.
  • Eleven horses have won the double of Caulfield Cup/Melbourne Cup
  • The first woman trainer to win the Melbourne Cup was Sheila Laxon from New Zealand with Ethereal in 2001.
  • Initially the race was run over 2 miles, but was converted to 3200m when Australia converted to the Metric system.
  • The most successful Melbourne Cup winner is still Makybe Diva with 3 consecutive wins – 2003,2004 and 2005.
  • Only 5 horses have won the Cup more than once – Makybe Diva; Peter Pan; Archer; Rain Lover and Think Big.
  • And – if you pick your horse based on the colour of the Jockey’s silks – be aware that 17 winning jockeys have been wearing black.

Melbourne Cup is more than just about racing though – it is the jewel in the crown of the Spring Carnival of racing and is one of the premier social events attracting international celebrities, a wonderful array of fashion and always a smattering of gossip, rumour and scandal.

Wherever you plan to be at 3pm on November the 5th this year – if you are in Australia – no matter where, you will not be able to escape the sounds of the Race that stops the Nation!

Good luck!