The Melbourne Cup is probably the biggest and most famous horse racing tournament in Australia, locally known as the race that stops a nation. Featuring a track that is 3200 metres long, the competition is only for horses that are at least 3 years old. The Victoria Racing Club organises the event, treating it as part of the yearly Melbourne Spring Racing carnival. The race takes place at the Flemington Racecourse, which is among the richest turf surfaces.
The competition is always scheduled for the first Tuesday of November. Many a fans turn up to watch horses’ race against each other. Melbourne cup betting begins earlier, and generally, returns good payouts if you play the odds correctly.
The First Ever Competition
Frederick Standish came up with idea of Melbourne Cup; the first ever competition was held on Thursday, November 7 in the year 1761. 17 horses competed for gold sovereigns worthy of £710 and a gold watch. Considering those times, the prize wasn’t the best or biggest, but still modest enough. Over 4000 spectators turned up to watch the race, but the audience numbers were still less than expected. A handsome hand bay stallion, called Archer, was crowned the winner, when he completed the track in 3.52.00; the rider was John Cutts.
Other events also took place during the first cup. Three horses fell during the race, and two of these died. Another horse bolted ahead before the race started. Archer, the horse that won, wasn’t the favourite; instead, the bookies all thought that Mormom, a Victorian champion would be the winner, but that wasn’t the case.
During the Years
As already mentioned, a trophy wasn’t included in the prize of the first ever Cup; it was only a gold watch. It wasn’t until 1865 that the Melbourne Cup had its first ever official trophy. The owner sold the trophy, only because he found it unattractive; it was then rebranded and given the name, Flemington Hunt Club Cup. Just a year later, the Barb became the official trophy, and is still in its original condition. It is now preserved at the National Museum of Australia, which acquired it in 2012.
Until 1866, the Melbourne Cup was held on a Thursday every year. From 1867, it was moved earlier in the month of October. 1875 was the first year when the Melbourne Cup took place on the first Tuesday of November, which has been the case since then.
The Melbourne Cup has been modified several times in the past couple of years. The most prominent of these is probably the entry of foreign trained horses, but many of them fail to cope with Australian conditions. In the year 2012, all horses that occupied the first 7 spots were Ireland breeds. Considering the 2016 cup, Lloyd Williams is the first person who owns 5 winning horses of the Melbourne Cup.
The 2017 Melbourne Cup is all set to take place on Nov 7. Let’s wait and see who takes away the show this time.