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Melbourne Cup History

The Melbourne Cup, often referred to as "the race that stops a nation," is a horse racing event of unparalleled prestige and significance in Australia. With a history spanning nearly 160 years, this iconic race has become more than just a sporting event; it's a cultural phenomenon that unites Australians and captivates the world.

1904 Melbourne Cup horse raceThe 1904 Melbourne Cup Race finish

A Glimpse into History

The Melbourne Cup made its debut in 1861 at the sprawling Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria. The race was conceived by Frederick Standish, the Secretary of the Victoria Turf Club, as a way to enhance the state's reputation and bring economic prosperity.Since its inception, the Melbourne Cup has retained its prime location at Flemington, a place that has witnessed countless historic moments and thrilling victories.

Seventeen horses contested the first Melbourne Cup in 1861, watched by a crowd of 4000. The prize was a gold watch and 710 pounds. The winner of the first race, Archer, is said to have walked 800km to the course from Nowra, New South Wales. He also won the following year.

Over the years, this race has undergone several significant changes and has evolved into one of the most prestigious horse racing events globally. Originally contested over two miles (approximately 3.2 kilometers), the race distance was shortened to 3,200 meters (about two miles) in 1972 to align with the metric system.

Memorable Victories

The Melbourne Cup has witnessed countless iconic moments and unforgettable victories. Phar Lap, the legendary Australian racehorse, secured victory in 1930, capturing the hearts of a nation during the Great Depression. The performances of Phar Lap represent a small fraction of the historic victories that have made the Melbourne Cup a cherished tradition.

One of the most remarkable moments in the Cup's history occurred in 2005 when the mare Makybe Diva, achieved a historic trifecta by winning the Cup for three consecutive years (2003, 2004, and 2005). This unparalleled feat solidified her status as one of Australia's all-time great racehorses.

However, it's not just Australian horses that have excelled on the Flemington track. In 1993, the Irish thoroughbred Vintage Crop became the first international horse to win the Melbourne Cup, opening the door to a new era of global participation in the race. This international influence has contributed to the event's worldwide recognition and has attracted top-class horses and jockeys from around the globe.

Changing with the Times

The Melbourne Cup has adapted to changing times and demands. The prize money for the race has significantly increased, reflecting the event's growing popularity and prestige. The fashion aspect of the Cup has also become a major attraction. Flemington's vibrant and extravagant fashion scene, featuring colorful hats and stylish dresses, has become a hallmark of the race day experience.

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Major Events Extra

The largest sporting event in the world is the Olympic Games, but there are many other multi-sport games. In terms of single sport events, nothing beats the FIFA World Cup. To see what's coming up, check out the calendar of major sporting events.

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