His­tory of Aus­tralia’s great race

From hum­ble be­gin­nings

Gatton Star - - NEWS -

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.

PHOTO: SCOTT POWICK

REAR­ING TO GO: In just a few short weeks, the race that stops the na­tion will be run yet again.

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