Melbourne Cup Carnival attend the most spectacular horse racing event in the world in Melbourne each year. It is such a focal point that it is a public holiday in the state of Victoria. This is a festival of horse racing, fashion and fun.
The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s major thoroughbred horse race. Marketed as “the race that stops a nation”, it is a 3,200 metre race for three-year-olds and over. It is the richest “two-mile” handicap in the world, and one of the richest turf races. Conducted annually by the Victoria Racing Club on the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria, the event starts at 3pm (daylight saving time) on the first Tuesday in November.
The first race was held in 1861 (see list of Melbourne Cup winners) over two miles (about 3,218 metres), but was shortened to 3,200 metres (2.0 mi) in 1972 when Australia adopted the metric system. This reduced the distance by 18.688 metres (61.31 ft), and Rain Lover’s 1968 race record of 3min.19.1sec was accordingly adjusted to 3min.17.9sec. The present record holder is the 1990 winner Kingston Rule with a time of 3min 16.3sec.
The event is one of the most popular spectator events in Australia, with sometimes over 110,000 people, some dressed in traditional formal raceday wear and others in all manner of exotic and amusing costumes, attending the race. The record crowd was 122,736 in 2003. The 1926 running of the Cup was the first time the 100,000 mark had been passed. Today the record at Flemington is held by the 2006 Victoria Derby when almost 130,000 attended.