The Melbourne Cup is far more than one simple horse race. The first Melbourne Cup race was on the 7th November 1861 and was won by Archer from a field of 17 horses. The prize was 170 pounds in money and also a gold watch.
Today more than 110,000 people watch the race but itís now much more than just one race. The Melbourne Cup Carnival runs over a period of a week and has four spectacular race days, each with numerous races to watch and bet on. Almost half a million people attend the venue over the four race days. The prize for the Melbourne Cup race itself in 2011 was five million dollars.
Horses and their entourages come to Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne from all around the world to run whatís commonly known as the best two mile horse race in the world. Also people from all around the world come to watch the races during this amazing week.
Itís a very glamorous week in so many ways. Millions of dollars are spent in ways that include fashion, food, entertainment, transportation, accommodation and everything else you could name thatís directly or indirectly related to racing and the Melbourne Cup Carnival week on top of the actual betting that goes on.
The Cup Week brings so much tourist money into Melbourne that itís a major calendar event looked forward to every year and planned for in great detail. More than $700 million is spent at the track alone during the week of the Carnival.
The Big Race is always run on the first Tuesday in November and is nicknamed ďthe race that stops a nation.Ē Workplaces have sweeps so people can have a bet on the race. Some businesses even have theme days as well if theyíre open.
Naturally itís a public holiday for most people in Melbourne so everyone can either attend in person or watch on TV at home, with friends or in venues that have large screens specifically for the event.
Etienne L de Mestre trained Archer and four other winners between the very first race in 1861 and 1878.
Bart Cummings has trained 12 Melbourne Cup winners since 1965 and he also trained five of the runners-up in those years as well so he holds an impressive record.
Lee Freedman is another owner/trainer, well-known name in racing circles, having won the Melbourne Cup three times, as well as the Caulfield Cup, Golden Slipper and Cox Plate.
The Melbourne Cup race is a gruelling 3.2km course and is known as a handicapped race. This is where the better the horse is, the more weight it must carry when racing.
The heaviest weight for a winner was Carbine in 1890 when he carried 66 kgs. Phar Lap, Australiaís most famous racehorse, carried 68 kgs in his last Melbourne Cup race but unfortunately even his great stamina didnít bring him to victory.
Melbourne is very proud of many of its attractions and the Melbourne Cup Carnival is definitely high up on the list and is one reason why the city has won the prestigious title of the Worldís most liveable city three times.