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What is the Melbourne Cup?

Last Updated On: October 26, 2018 by The Migration Translators

Facts about Melbourne Cup
What is the Melbourne Cup?
Last updated:October 26th, 2018 by The Migration Translators

In Australia, Melbourne Cup Day is an annual horse racing event which is held on the 1st Tuesday of November each year. Melbourne is in the state of Victoria and there is a public holiday declared in the state on Melbourne Cup day. Melbourne Cup in 2018 will be held on Tuesday 6th November.

Melbourne Cup Facts

The annual Melbourne Cup happens to be one of the most popular racing and social events in Australia. The main event happens at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne attended by about 100,000 people. At the same time, local races take place in the country on the same day while the main event is broadcast on screens at race track venue throughout the country. Throughout the world, around 650 million viewers watch the event live and many at 3 pm Melbourne time so enthused by the event that they stop what they are doing to watch it either on TV or via the internet and if these sources aren’t available they listen to the main race on the radio. Many are getting their documents ready and visas translated in advance to attend the event!

The Melbourne Cup is a day when women attending the race dress up in colorful dresses and hats. Many take part in a fashion parade showing off their attire. As VIPs usually attend the race special marquees are constructed for their use. Champagne, wine, spirits, and gourmet foods are typically served on the day.

When it comes close to the time of the main race many offices and workplaces throughout the country put on their own events in support of the Melbourne Cup. These include dress and hat competitions and joint staff lunches at nearby restaurants. Big screens are erected making it possible for workers to view the event. It can’t be forgotten that this is an event when many people wage a bet on the winner.

Melbourne Cup history

Melbourne Cup Day became important in Australia since the 1st race took place in 1861 at Victoria’s Flemington Racecourse. This first race was won by the horse Archer, who also won the race in1862. The event typically features several races, including a handicap race where 20 thoroughbreds are forced to run for several million Australian dollars. There was one well-known winner called Phar Lap, a New Zealand thoroughbred who in 1930 won the event and was subsequently given a nickname of “Australia’s wonder horse.” This later became a famous movie. When Phar Lap died the story goes that it was caused by poisoning.

In 1877 the 1st Tuesday in November which was designated Melbourne Cup Day became a public holiday.  As there was not full adherence to the public holiday by all of Melbourne’s metropolitan councils in 2008 new legislation was passed by the Victorian Parliament ensured that Melbourne Cup Day was a public holiday throughout all the state’s council areas. This meant that Melbourne Cup Day became officially one of the state’s public holidays. From time to time similar race events take place in Australia because horse racing is a popular pastime.


Because Melbourne Cup Day is the best-known racing fixture in Australia and its importance brought on the need to declare the day a state public holiday it has now been given the phrase that it is “the race that stops the nation.” There are, however, a few Australians who consider horse racing to be a cruel sport and have protested over the years about the staging of the event. So far nothing has been done to stop the annual event taking place and there have never been any attempts to reform it in recent years.