The Melbourne Cup, Australia’s major thoroughbred horse race held annually, is one of the most famous of its kind in the world. It is held on the Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne, at 3:00 p.m. on the first Tuesday every November, and this is the most important and the most eagerly-awaited Tuesday for Australians both in their home country and outside. The Melbourne Cup Day is a public holiday for Melbourne and for a large part of the rest of Australia. The saying goes that the Melbourne Cup is the race that stops the whole nation, however actually in reality, most Australians the world over stop to follow the race. Those who are not used to heavy betting also try their hand at small wagers.
Melbourne Cup Day is held on the first Tuesday in November and is the day on which one of the most famous horse races in the world is run in Melbourne. Since 1861, Melbourne Cup Day has been an official race day and, since 1877, a public holiday in Victoria. Around the nation, most of the population stops to bet on the race and watch it on TV.
The Melbourne Cup, the race that ‘stops a nation’, runs over 3,200 metres at Flemington Racecourse and is for no more than 24 horses that are over three years old. On the day it’s difficult to know if the public holiday is about the horse race or if it’s about the hats and fashion. High society mixes with everyone else and the full-day event has also become known as an urban fashion parade.
Although only Victoria takes the day off, around the country most businesses stop for the 3pm (AEDST) race and share ‘office sweepstakes’, champagne and lunch. Many people who don’t normally bet, get into the spirit of the day and buy a two-dollar office sweepstakes ticket on a random horse.
It has several other fringe attractions also. From the days of its origin, the Cup is a place where the high society of Australia makes an appearance and they definitely make sure they are seen. Hence, every year, Flemington naturally transforms into a venue for a very interesting and spectacular fashion parade where members of the high society vie with each other in the choice of their apparels and accessories and their style and fashion.
A racewear competition for men and women is held during the Melbourne Cup Carnival. The women’s competition is held as part of the distinguished MYERS Fashions on the Field that searches the whole of Australia to find the most stylishly and well dressed women in Australia. The focus on fashion has grown so much over the years that one feels that it sometimes overshadows the importance of the race itself.
All over Australia, in all the states, there are several events organised to celebrate the Melbourne Cup in various ways. Besides racewear competitions that are held in every state to find the best dressed men and women, the Design Award and the Millinery Award, there are small wagers, heavy betting and sweepstakes. Outside of Melbourne, both in Australia and New Zealand, people watch the race on television and gamble through direct betting or through wagers at the workplace or any other clubs or organisations. In New Zealand, the Melbourne Cup is the biggest betting event and the races are shown live on big screens on the major tracks.
Sydney has its own share of events and live entertainment organised in connection with the Melbourne Cup. Races shown on giant screens and walls, trackside marquees, fashion parades, indoor, garden and rooftop parties, wagers and sweepstakes are some of them. In Sydney, leading restaurants offer interesting lunch and dining options on the Melbourne Cup Day. The events organised around the Sydney Harbour make the best out of the beautiful views offered by the world’s most beautiful natural harbour. There are lunch, dinner and party options available around the harbour. These events combine the advantages of the beauty of the harbour as well as the excitement of the Cup, making them the best celebrations of the Melbourne Cup around the Sydney Harbour. On the pre-Melbourne Cup Lunch Cruise offered by the Magistic Cruises, one can indulge in a great lunch and wine, or champagne in celebration of the Cup, and enjoy the views around the Sydney Harbour. The cruise returns you ashore in time to watch the pre-race celebrations and then the actual race, in great excitement and high spirits!