History of Australia’s great race
From humble beginnings
IT’S the race that stops the nation, and it’s just around the corner yet again.
While most today associate cup day with champagne, fascinators and a flutter on the horses, the Melbourne Cup has a rich history.
The first cup was run in 1861 in front of an estimated crowd of 4000 and was won by Hunter, a New South Wales thoroughbred who would go on to win the cup the following year, becoming one of only five horses to win the Melbourne Cup twice or more and one of just four to win two consecutive cups.
The course was originally run over two mile, and in its inaugural year had a prize of £710 and a gold watch, winner takes all.
In 1972, the course was updated to run over a metric 3200m, shortening the course by just over 18 metres.
This year, the total purse on offer is $7.3 million dollars, with $4 million of that going to the horse that runs first.
Over its 157 years, the Melbourne Cup has become Australia’s most popular sporting events, and remains Australia’s richest handicap race.
The cup itself is an 18 carat gold trophy created each year by Hardy Brothers Jewellers.
The trophy is hand-crafted from 44 pieces of gold metal and takes more than 250 hours of hard work to complete.
Since 1875, the race has always been held on the first Tuesday of November, with the main race running at 3pm sharp.
The modern history of the cup has been no less storied than its past.
In 2005, British-bred Makybe Diva became the only horse to ever win three Melbourne Cups, a feat that captured the hearts of the nation.
After the race, her trainer Lee Freedman said it was a feat not likely to bee seen again for generations.
“Go find the smallest child on this course, and there will be the only example of a person who will live long enough to see that agian,” Freedman said
And in 2015, Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to win the cup on Prince of Penzance despite the horse having odds of 100-1 to take out the race.
REARING TO GO: In just a few short weeks, the race that stops the nation will be run yet again.