The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s most famous horse race and over time it has fittingly been named the race that stops a nation. On Tuesday the 1st of November at 3pm the eyes of the world will converge on Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne.
It is the marquee race of the Spring Carnival and has now become an international event. Melbourne Cup history dates back to 1861 and the 3200m race now offers a staggering $6.2 million in prizemoney.
The balloting conditions ensure that only the best horses qualify or are accepted to take part. The winners of several races are exempt from the ballot and they include the Lexus Stakes, Victoria Derby, Cox Plate, Caulfield Cup, Irish St. Leger and Arlington Million amongst others.
As a handicap race for horses aged 3 and above the VRC handicapper will then set the weights accordingly with older horses penalised and forced to carry more weight which can have a significant effect on betting odds. Previous winners also carry additional weight but that didn’t prevent Makybe Diva from winning the race an unprecedented three consecutive times.
Glen Boss rode Makybe Diva in all three victories but he is still behind Bobbie Lewis and Harry White who each had four wins as a jockey. In relation to trainers though there can only be one Cup’s King and that is Bart Cummings who trained 12 Melbourne Cup winners over the course of almost five decades.
Despite having 24 horses take part in the race favourites in Melbourne Cup betting odds have a great record winning over 20% of the time. The first Tuesday in November is a big part of Australian culture and it is the one racing day where everyone becomes an expert. Millions of Australians place their Melbourne Cup bets while others simply take part in workplace cup sweeps.
The fascination however doesn’t with glitz and glamour also taking centre stage. The Fashions on the Field which was introduced in 1963 to attract more women has now become a focal point with elegant dresses and eye catching headpieces a feature. Top it off with a glass of champagne and you have the perfect day – Melbourne Cup Day.