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2009 Melbourne Cup

Posted on 06/08 by Pom de Turf

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The first Tuesday in November marks a day when millions of Australians stand glued to the television to watch a single horse race which is over in a matter of minutes – the historic Melbourne Cup. One of Melbourne’s biggest annual sporting events since 1861, this 3200m handicap is the biggest single betting event in Australia.

The Flemington Racecourse draws more than 100,000 for the event and as one of the most beautiful spots in the city, with its colourful blaze of roses and well manicured greens, the course has now been placed on the National Heritage List, alongside Sydney Opera House.

A far cry from the first Melbourne Cup in 1861 when the Victoria Turf Club took over from minor clubs who had hosted the very first horse racing events in Australia earlier in that century. The historic first race was won by Archer a poor horse who, legend has it, had walked all the way from Nowra in New South Wales to participate! His winnings of a gold watch and £170 are a stark contrast to today’s value of $5 million, making it the wealthiest horse racing handicap anywhere in the world.

There are many interesting records and facts in the Cup’s history, not least the best time recorded by Kingston Rule in the 1990 Cup Day. He completed the course in 3:16:3, a record that remains unbroken today. 1983 saw an unprecedented upset when Kiwi who was placed last went on to win. His experience and training mainly consisted of herding sheep but, against all the odds, he did what came naturally and ran the race of his life.

Melbournians embrace what is now a 4 day event and turn out in their thousands to not only bet on the racing, but to enjoy the carnival atmosphere, the fabulous surroundings and the opportunity to dress to impress!

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