The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s premier horse racing competition. Being held since 1861, it’s often called “the race that stops the nation” as everyone in the land down under stops their work to watch the race or follow it on TV. With over 100,000 people attending Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria each November, take a minute to learn more about the Melbourne Cup race in Australia.
With over a 150 years of history in the competition, there’s bound to be some fantastic records on display. For example, the record holder for most wins by any horse is currently held by Makybe Diva. The mare owned by Tony Šantić won the race on three occasions, in 2003, 2004 and 2005, always in the hands of Australian jockey Glen Boss. On the other hand, the record for most wins by any jockey is currently shared. Bobbie Lewis was the first man to win the race on four occasions, concretely in 1902, 1915, 1919, 1927. His record stood unchallenged for fifty two years until Harry White won his fourth Melbourne Cup in 1979 to tie it all on four, his previous wins coming in 1974, 1975, and 1978.
When it comes to trainers, however, there’s only one man ahead of the pack, and by quite some distance. His name was Bart Cummings, and he was a legend of Australian horse racing. He became known as the Cups King due to his twelve Melbourne Cup wins, with success spanning five decades as he won the cup in 1965, 1966, 1967, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1999 and 2008. His 1990 win stands in a special place as it is also the record winning time for the Melbourne Cup, with American-bred racehorse Kingston Rule getting to the finish line in 3:16.3. This was also the first new official record, as the previous record, done by Rain Lover in 1968, was changed from 3:19.1 to 3:17.9, as it was achieved in the original two-mile (3.219km) track that was adjusted to (precisely) 3.2 kilometers when Australia switched to the metric system.
Fashions on the Field
Another big attraction during the day of the Melbourne Cup is the “Fashions on the Field” contest. Since the very start of the race, it has always been held as one of the premier events for the upper classes and displays of elegance and fashion are always one of the many attractions of the day. The “Fashions of the Field” contest offers important prizes to the best dressed man and woman, with the requirement of elaborate hats and fascinators for the wingers. While the rules are fairly simple for the women (just any attire that maintains a suitable standard for the event, with freedom for any colors, patterns, textures and combinations), for mens it’s must be a sports coat or blazer, tailored slacks or chinos, a shirt, tie and dress shoes.
The Flemington racecourse itself is also prepared for the event with great interest and passion. Over 12,000 roses are placed around the course and the rest of the compound, with over 200 species of the flower and a dedicated team of gardeners.