About This Festival
The Melbourne Cup is the crown jewel of the Australian horse racing calendar. First run in 1861, the Melbourne Cup is steeped in social, fashion related and cultural tradition.
Each year on the first Tuesday of November, the greatest thoroughbreds from across the globe make their way to Flemington Racecourse for a shot at the prestigious title and a chance at the AU$6.2 million in prize money.
Covering 3,200 meters (almost two miles), it is the richest turf race in the world and second only to the US $10 million Dubai World Cup.
Melbourne Cup - Let's Throw a Party!
It is commonly billed as the race that stops a nation—and it truly is. At 3pm, Australians from all walks of life religiously stop what they are doing to clamber for a view of the race at bars, pubs, offices and schools all around the country.
Attending the race in 1895, Mark Twain exclaimed, “Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such magnificent appeal to the whole nation. The Cup astonishes me.”
The state of Victoria has even gone so far as to declare Melbourne Cup day a public holiday. Although it is a holiday only in Victoria, many offices across Australia stop work for the afternoon. It is quite popular for companies to organize Melbourne Cup office parties, with people encouraged to dress up in their Sunday Best and participate in the office sweepstakes.
More Than Just a Race
Officially called the Emirates Melbourne Cup, the race creates a celebratory atmosphere combining the best of what Melbourne has to offer—food, wine, sport, fashion and gambling.
Horses not really your thing? Have no fear, head on down to Hill Square for a taste of fun and excitement. Located behind the Hill Stand this is the place to be seen. Featuring a variety of casual eating areas and live entertainment, including the best local and international DJs, Hill Square is a free destination for all racegoers. You can also sample an amazing cocktail at the pop-up bar or be pampered at the Skin Care Day Spa.
A Fashionista's Dream
Fashions on the Field was established in 1962 to encourage more women to the races. Fifty years on and it is now as much of an icon as the race itself, with hundreds of fashion hopefuls competing in Australia's most prestigious outdoor fashion event.
Celebrities, VIPs and fashionistas all to compete for prizes totaling over AU$400,000 including luxury brand watches, jewelry and a car. Here's your chance to feel like an A-lister and grab that designer dress or suit.
Of course, no Cup outfit is complete without a touch of spring color. The official flower for the Emirates Melbourne Cup is the yellow rose and this can be bought from a variety of sellers near the entrance to the racecourse.
Go on, Have a 'Punt'
Australians are widely known as keen gamblers. It has become an Australian tradition to place a bet on the Emirates Melbourne Cup, known locally as 'having a punt'.
Kerry Packer, the late Australian billionaire businessman and media magnate was often known to send local bookmakers into a frenzy, placing bets in excess of $1 million. You don't need to be a billionaire to place a bet on the races. Betting starts at a meager $1 that you can place at any TAB.
Don't know which horse to back? Here's a tip: Bart Cummings currently holds the most Cup wins as a trainer making him a favorite choice among first-time betters. Among the most famous Melbourne Cup winners is Phar Lap who won at odds of 11/8 in 1930, making him the shortest-priced favorite in the history of the Cup.
The huge crowds of over 100,000 are there for more than just a horse race. Whether socializing in one of the corporate marquees, dining in one of the excellent restaurants or dancing up a storm, the excitement is unique to this event. Those looking to continue the party usually end up at one of the many private events or dockside at the Crown Casino if they are still feeling lucky.
Win or lose... the Melbourne Cup Carnival is an experience that is not to be missed!