The Melbourne Cup has become the most important and popular horse race in Australia. With a history that goes back to 1861, this magnificent event truly is “the race that stops a nation.” Held over a distance of 3200 metres, the Melbourne Cup is Australia’s most loved, most traditional, and most valuable thoroughbred horse race.
The Melbourne Cup has a rich and interesting history, beginning in 1861 when the Victoria Turf Club took over official horse racing in Melbourne. Small clubs organised events up until this time, with a horse track initially developed in the city in 1835. However, the first momentous race that truly started Melbourne Cup history took place in 1861, run by seventeen horses and won by a hand bay stallion called Archer.
The Victoria Turf Club and the Victoria Jockey Club merged to form the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) in 1864, and this organisation has been in charge of the event ever since. In 1865, Cup Day was declared a half day holiday, graduating to a whole day holiday in 1877. This was an important milestone in the history of the Melbourne Cup, which attracts much more public attention than any other horse race in Australia.
2020 Melbourne Cup: View the Melbourne Cup 2020 Dates
When was the first Melbourne Cup?
In 1875, the Melbourne Cup was first held on the first Tuesday of November, a tradition that remains to this day. It was also in this year that the VRC adopted the four-day format, which later became the Melbourne Cup Carnival that we know and love today. In recent years, the arrival of foreign trained horses has seen this event evolve to become a truly international race.
Melbourne Cup Famous Horses
A number of famous horses have won this race over the years, including Phar Lap, champion of the 1930 Melbourne Cup. Famous for winning the Cup with the shortest priced odds at 11/8, Par Lap had to endure an attempt on his life prior to the race. The fastest winning time for the Melbourne Cup was Kingston Rule in 1990 at 3:16.3. Makybe Diva has enjoyed the most wins with 3 in a row between 2003-5, and Bart Cummings is the most successful trainer with 12 wins.