The Melbourne Cup Day may be Australia’s version of the Super Bowl. This year, on November 7, thousands of spectators are expected to flock to the Flemington Racecourse to witness the most prestigious event on the country’s racing calendar.
Millions more are expected to join the fanfare, whether by placing their Melbourne Cup bets, watching the race in restaurants, bars, on the streets, or in their homes, making it one of the country’s most celebrated spectacles.
Find out why Australians go to such great lengths to celebrate this momentous day.
- It’s called the ‘Race That Stops the Nation’ for a good reason
Although soccer, tennis, and golf remain the most popular sports in Australia, the Melbourne Cup Day is the only sports event that’s earned the moniker the ‘Race That Stops the Nation.’
Every first Tuesday of November, the entire state of Victoria goes to a standstill as residents spend the annual public holiday to watch the race and join the festivities. The Melbourne Cup Day has been declared an annual public holiday in Victoria since 1877, two years after it was established that the race be held every first Tuesday of November.
Though slight changes may have been introduced since its first run, the Melbourne Cup always retained its appeal. If you’re an avid horse race fan, always check updated information about this year’s Melbourne Cup Day at Racenet and the races leading up to this sporting event to ensure you don’t miss out.
- It’s a world-renowned horse racing event
But the celebration is far from local, as racegoers from all over the country and the world stand eager to experience a four-day celebration of entertainment on and off the racetracks through the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
In 1895, famed American writer Mark Twain witnessed the Melbourne Cup celebration firsthand and said, ‘Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such a magnificent appeal to the whole nation. The Cup astonishes me.’
A few royals, athletes, and celebrities have graced the Flemington Racecourse over the years to witness the Melbourne Cup as a testament to its prominence in the international racing scene. They include the late Queen Elizabeth II, her granddaughter Zara Tindall, King Charles III, Queen Consort Camilla-Parker, the world’s fastest person Usain Bolt, and Sarah Jessica Parker.
- It’s the wealthiest handicap race in the world
While the Everest race holds the highest prize in Australian racing at $20 million, the Melbourne Cup remains significant as the highest-paying handicap race at $8 million. To the uninitiated, this type of race levels the playing field for all runners, as each horse is allocated different weights to carry throughout the race, depending on their form and age.
Experienced punters will find it more challenging to guess the winner, making sports betting more exciting. Despite this, the 2022 Melbourne Cup Carnival earned $1.88 billion from wagering turnover. It gave away $ 61.8 million in total prize money, per the Victorian Racing Club (VRC). Besides the huge pot money awaiting the lucky punter, Melbourne Cup Day betting has become a tradition for some Australians who’ve never considered wagering otherwise.
So whether betting for fun or the prize, check out valuable racing information on https://www.youtube.com/@Racenet_AU for valuable racing tips and insights.
- It’s deeply ingrained in Australian history and culture
The Melbourne Cup Day had its first run in the Flemington Racecourse since 1861, and 2023 marks the 163rd year since its inception. Over a century and a half later, there’s no stopping the country from celebrating this much-anticipated event. There were only two instances where the race was postponed, in 1870 and 1916, because of the heavy downpour.
As one of the oldest horse races in the world, the Melbourne Cup is deeply steeped in Australia’s history and tradition. The Melbourne Cup is the brainchild of Frederick Standish, who was head of the VRC, which still manages the event.
The maiden race was held on November 7, 1861, with about 4,000 spectators watching the stallion named Archer emerge as the winner against 16 others. Last year’s Melbourne Cup Day race fielded 22 runners out of the 24 maximum contenders.
- It boasts a high number of participants and spectators
According to the VRC, about 10.3 million (roughly half) of the Australian adult population participated in the 2022 Melbourne Cup Carnival. Of this figure, 5.8 million took part in the Melbourne Cup Day, the highest in history.
Last year’s event likewise saw more than 70,000 spectators flocking to the Flemington Racecourse amid the ice-cold weather to see the action live. Australia’s premier Horse Club also reported the Carnival’s total attendance at 258,359 and over 68,000 overseas and cruise visitors. The Melbourne Cup Day was broadcast to over 209 international territories and has an average of 750 million viewers annually.
The Melbourne Cup Day may be one of Australia’s biggest sporting events, but it’s more than horse racing. It’s a celebration of the country’s culture and history, providing unforgettable experiences for residents and non-residents, sports lovers, race aficionados, occasional punters, or those who want to have fun.