Melbourne Cup Day - the Race that Stops a Nation
The first Tuesday in November is Melbourne Cup Day
If you live in Melbourne in the Australian state of Victoria you will get a public holiday on the first Tuesday in November. Many countries have public holidays to recognise the anniversary of important national dates like Independence or labour days or the birthdate of their sovereign. So what is the importance of the first Tuesday in November? It is a holiday to celebrate a horse race called the Melbourne Cup. It is also known as the race that stops a nation and is a major event on the Australian social calendar.
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The first Melbourne Cup was run in 1861
The Melbourne Cup dates back to 1861. Since Australia went metric in 1973 is has been ran over 3,200 metres (two miles) at Flemington racecourse. It is the world's richest two-mile handicap with over $6 million Australian dollars in prizemoney plus trophies. The final field of 24 horses can be drawn from runners who have qualified all around the world. One mare, Makybe Diva, won for three consecutive years in 2003, 2004 and 2005 in a feat that will probably never be repeated. Veteran Australian trainer Bart Cummings has trained 12 Melbourne Cup winners so far in a long and illustrious career. Winners have come from all around the world including Ireland, Japan and France.
The Melbourne Cup is more than just a horse race though. It is a cultural event deeply embedded in the Australian psyche. Even people who know nothing about horses and who normally never bet or gamble will have a little flutter on the Melbourne Cup, whether through the tote or a workplace sweepstakes. At the appointed hour (usually 3pm) on that first Tuesday in November almost everything comes to a standstill for the approximately 2 minutes it takes the for the race to be run. Television sets all around the country tune in to watch, and race meetings are held all across the country in cities, towns and bush tracks so people can go there to bet on the big race with the bookmakers.
Ballads, poems and songs have been written about the Melbourne Cup and the day creates a party atmosphere across the country. It is one of Australia's oddest public holidays, and one of its most celebrated. Most Australians have "attend a Melbourne Cup at Flemington" on their bucket list. It's as close as we get to a pilgrimage.
Melbourne Cup Books
Ladies Racewear Fascinators
Melbourne Cup is a dress-up day with fantastic prizes on offer in Fashions on the Field contests for the best-dressed woman, man and couple. There are also people in outrageous outfits who are just there to have fun and party. Many women complete there raceday outfit with a fascinator or hat.