The Melbourne Cup horse race has become a part of the Australian tradition. Horse racing is one of the most popular sports in Australia, and many events take place in this country. The Melbourne Cup is probably the biggest of them all – it certainly is one of the richest events on grass. In the beginning, the distance of the contest was two miles, but it was shortened due to the adoption of the metric system and is now 3,200 meters. The Melbourne Cup is a public holiday in Australia, and is also called “the race that stops a nation”.
Some Race Information
The event takes place in Melbourne at the Flemington Racecourse each year on the first Tuesday in November at 3 pm. Thoroughbreds which are at least three years old can participate in this handicap race with a prize pool of more than 6 million Australian dollars, which means that it has the biggest prize amongst all two-mile handicap races. Handicap means that weights are placed on the horses, so there’s more competition. A maximum of 24 horses can participate in the Melbourne Cup horse race, and winners of specific races receive some of the spots, while the others are giving out by voting. The directors of the race can both provide entry or suspend a horse at their judgement.
The First Melbourne Cup
The original event took place on Thursday, 7th November 1861, and 17 horses were participating. Three of them fell during the race, and two of those three died. The winner was a horse called Archer who was an underdog at the beginning but won by six lengths. The next year the same horse won by eight lengths, which is a very impressive achievement, considering nobody managed to win the race two times in a row until Rain Lover in the 1960s.
An interesting fact is that Archer was disqualified in 1863 because of a late arrival. Many horse owners did not accept the decision and boycotted the race instead, which meant that only seven horses participated in the event – the lowest number in the whole history of the tournament.
Events in the Melbourne Cup Horse Race
You probably guessed that due to its long history, the Australian horse race is bound to have some interesting occurrences. In 1865 was the first year when the event was a half-day holiday for public and bank employees in Melbourne, and eight years later it became a public holiday. In 1875 the event took place on the first Tuesday of November, which was a first time. Since then, it has always taken place on this date. In 1876, Peter St. Albans was the youngest jockey to win the race – he was thirteen years old. That record has not been broken even until now.
In 1876, the ship carrying many horses was hit by a storm and eleven of them died, which took a serious toll on the bets, and a bookmaker rewarded the ship captain because many people already bet on horses that were killed.
The first foreign-bred horse to finish first was Comedy King in 1910, and that is impressive because it has happened very rarely since then. Phar Lap has had 11/8 odds of winning the 1930 Melbourne Cup horse race, and there were attempts to shoot him, so he had to stay hidden. Later on, the horse won the race and became a crown favourite.
The first time that a photo finish was used at the Melbourne Cup was in 1948 when the horse Rimfire won against Dark Marine. Many people thought that the decision was wrong, and later it was found out that the camera was in an incorrect position. Ten years after this event, we saw stalls being used for the first time. The prize pool reached 1 million Australian dollars for the first time in 1985. Of course, we should also mention the Makybe Dive – the first and only horse to win the competition three times.
Betting on the Melbourne Cup
The event always sparks interest from many punters who argue amongst themselves about who is going to win. The best way to place a wager on the Melbourne Cup is to use an online betting site. They always have many markets for the race, and the special and prop bets are very tempting for many people.