he race that stops a nation is run on the first Tuesday in November. If Indonesia wanted to invade Australia, that would be the time to do it. Even the Melbourne trams stop on their tracks for the race to be run, such is the power of this great Australian Icon.
First run on 9th November, 1861 the Cup is run over 3,200 metres (previously 2 miles) at Flemingon racecourse in Melbourne. The Cup is run under the auspices of the Victoria Racing Club.
There is a carnival atmosphere amongst the large crowd and ladies try to outdo each other with their fashionable hats and clothes. English model Jean Shrimpton caused a furore back in 1965 when she appeared at the race meeting wearing a daring Mini Skirt. The Melbourne matrons were aghast.
Champagne is the order of the day and it is fashionable to breakfast and lunch from the boot of your car in the carpark.
The first and second Cups were won by Archer who had to walk to Melbourne from his base in Nowra, New South Wales to start in the race. The Cup was won in 1978 by Arwon (Nowra in reverse).
Archer was trained by the master horseman Etienne De Mestre and won the princely sum of £710 for his effort in carrying 9.7 to victory in 1861. In 1862 he carried 10.2 for prizemoney of £810.
Some of the great horses to win the Cup were -
1880 Grand Flaneur - never beaten.
1884 Malua - he also won a Newmarket Handicap and a Grand National Hurdle.
1930 Phar Lap - the Red Terror.
1932 Peter Pan, again in 1934.
1954 Rising Fast
1968 Rain Lover, again in 1969.
1991 Let's Elope
1997 Might And Power - since rated the best stayer in the world.
|Might And Power|
The youngest jockey to win the Cup was 13 year old Peter St Albans, who won on Briseis in 1876.
Cups King Bart Cummings has trained the winner of the Melbourne Cup on 10 occasions and jockey Harry White rode the winner of the race 4 times, sharing riding honours with Bobbie Lewis.
The late T J Smith trained the winners Toparoa in 1955 and Just A Dash in 1981. The great Kingston Town was beaten a neck in 1982 by Gurner's Lane .
The late C.S. Hayes trained Beldale Ball for victory in 1980, At Talaq in 1986 and the ill-fated champion Dulcify who came to grief in 1979. His son David trained Jeune for victory in 1994. Perhaps son Peter can do it in 1999 with The Hind ?
Lee Freedman has trained 3 winners of the Cup in recent years - Tawriffic in 1989, Subzero in 1992 and Doriemus in 1995. Two years later and Doriemus almost got up to beat the champion Might And Power .
Harry White is now retired tending his cows but Bart Cummings may just have the winner in 1999.
The Cup now attracts top horses from around the world and the Irish horse Vintage Crop won a thrilling race in 1993.
Last year the race was won by Kiwi horse Jezabeel who had been very unlucky in the Caulfield Cup.
|Cup Day - A Birdseye View|
Other major races run at Flemington are the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap and the Group 1 Victoria Derby.
There is a film Phar Lap starring Tom Burlinson and screenplay by David Williamson which gives a great account of what the Melbourne Cup is all about.
For the latest Cup information visit www.vrc.net.au