The highlight of the racing calendar - and many may argue the entire sporting calendar - in Australia is The Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, headlined by the Melbourne Cup. This brings together some of the best horses from around the world - and the Melbourne Cup horses are the best the world has to offer. These all come together to offer horse racing fans 50 days' worth of world-class action. Read more at www.racenet.com.au/melbourne-cup.
Springtime in Australia means that the Carnival has a unique atmosphere that brings the whole of Melbourne, and the rest of the country, back to life.
The highlight of Spring in Australia is the Melbourne Cup Carnival Festival, held at Flemington Racecourse, which offers four days of thrills and excitement. Moreover, this is the home of the Melbourne Cup - the biggest race day in Australia - held on the first Tuesday of November every year.
The Spring Racing Carnival SeasonThe Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival kicks off in October with the three-day Caulfield Cup Carnival, held at the Caulfield Racecourse. Straight after this, the next week is the WS Cox Plate that takes place at the Moonee Valley Racecourse.
The season's racing ends in November, one week after the Melbourne Cup Carnival, with Sandown Classic Day, held at Sandown Racecourse.
The Carnival HighlightsThere are plenty of highlights and high-quality feature races in the Spring Carnival Racing Festival, starting off with some excellent races in early spring before it really kicks off. However, the season really starts when it's time for the Caulfield Cup Carnival. It reaches its peak at the Flemington racecourse and finishes sweetly with the Moonee Valley Carnival in November.
The Caulfield CupThis is the second of the big spring distance races. This a group 1 race that is one of the toughest, taking place over 2,400 metres at the Caulfield Racecourse. This race is deemed to be one of the big feature cup races alongside the legendary Melbourne Cup.
The WS Cox PlateThis race takes place at the Moonee Valley racecourse. It is another Group 1 race that takes place in October and covers a distance of 2040 metres. Although not as famous as the Caulfield Cup or Melbourne Cup, this is the race that is seen to be the weight-for-age championship of Australasia. It is run just one week after the Caulfield Cup.
The Melbourne CupThe jewel in the crown of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival is the Melbourne Cup - and is the country's most famous race. This race has a rich history - starting in 1861 and taking place on the first Tuesday of every November since then.
The first prize that was ever awarded to the winner of The Melbourne Cup was 810 gold sovereigns and a watch. This was very well received by the first winner, Archer and his rider. However, since then, the prizes for winning this race have gotten bigger and better.
In 1865, they started awarding the winner of the race with a trophy, which was originally a miniature horse and rider placed on top of a silver bowl. This, however, did change and in 1919 the Melbourne Trophy as we know it was first introduced.
However, riders were not just racing for the trophy, there was money that came along with it, and in 1985, it was the first year and the first horse race in Australia that offered prize money of more than $1 million. To date, the winner of the Melbourne Cup will get a $500,000 bonus and the total prize pool for the race now exceeds $7.57 million.
This is also the race in Australia that attracts the most international horses, especially over the last ten years. The reason this race is so attractive to international riders is because of the new 'quality handicap' weighting system. However, foreign horses have been running in the race for over 100 years, with the first overseas winner being Comedy King in 1910.
No Women AllowedThe original incarnation of the race forbade women from taking part. The first time a woman ever competed in the race was over 100 years after it first started, in 1987, when Maree Lyndon became the first female to compete on her horse, Argonaut Style. This wasn't a great success, and she ended up second to last, but it paved the way for others.
The first real success for females in the race came in 2001 when a New Zealand mare called Ethereal won the race, trained by Sheila Laxon - the first woman to ever officially train a Melbourne Cup winner.
A Melbourne Cup Hat-TrickThere had been a handful of horses that had won the race twice before, including the first-ever winner, Archer. However, history was made again in 2005 when MakybeDiva won the Melbourne Cup for three years consecutively. This was followed in 2007 with a win from a Japanese horse, Delta Blues.
Coming HomeTraditionally, international horses have fared a lot better in the Melbourne Cup than Australian bred and trained horses. However, in 2019, Vow and Declare broke a ten-year hiatus of home victories when he became the first Australian horse to win since Shocking, the outside who had a shock win in 2009. However, in 2020 it was again won by an international horse - Twilight Payment.
The Melbourne Cup Racing Calendar
Day 1 - Saturday 30th October
- Victoria Derby Group 1
- Cantala Stakes Group 1
- Coolmore Stud Stakes Group 1
- Empire Rose Stakes Group 1
- Wakeful Stakes Group 2
- Linlithgow Stakes Group 2
- Hotham Handicap Group 3
- Begonia Belle Stakes Group 3
- Carbine Club Stakes Group 3
Day 2 - Tuesday 2nd November
- Melbourne Cup Group 1
- Maybe Mahal Stakes Group 3
- Tottaway Stakes Gorup 3
Day 3 - Thursday 4th November
- VRC Oakes Group 1
- Red Roses Stakes Group 3
- Maribyrnong Stakes Group 3
Day 4 - Saturday 6th November
- Emirates Stakes Group 1
- VRC Sprint Classic Group 1
- Matriarch Stakes Group 2
- VRC Queen Elizabeth Stakes Group 3
- Chatham Stakes Group 3
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