The Melbourne Cup
The Melbourne Cup is the most famous horse race in Australia. It began in 1861 and has been held every year since. It is held on the first Tuesday in November, with the race starting at 3 p.m.
The Cup is a race for thoroughbred horses, three years old and over, with a prize pool of several million dollars. As an example, in 2011 the overall prize was $6,175,000, which was awarded to the top ten horses, of which the winner received $3.3 million.
The distance of the course is 3,200 metres; it was originally two miles (approximately 3,218 metres), but this was changed in 1972 to 3,200 metres, as part of the conversion of Australia from the Imperial system to the Metric system of measurements.
Betting on the Melbourne Cup is widespread, with millions of dollars spent in on-track and off-track betting, along with a great part of the population participating in friendly Cup Sweeps organised amongst friends and work colleagues.
Melbourne Cup Day is a public holiday in Melbourne and the race is watched by many Australians across the country, being known as “the race that stops a nation”.
References and further reading:
“Melbourne Cup”, Australian Government (accessed 26 July 2012)
“History of the Cup”, Melbourne Cup Carnival (accessed 26 July 2012)
“Melbourne Cup: ‘The race that stops a nation’”, State Library of New South Wales (accessed 26 July 2012)
“The Race That Stops The Nation – Part of Australian Culture”, The Culture Concept Circle (accessed 26 July 2012)
“The Melbourne Cup”, Wikipedia (accessed 26 July 2012)
“List of Melbourne Cup winners”, Wikipedia (accessed 26 July 2012)