THE CUP First run in 1861 the Melbourne Cup is the world’s richest two mile handicap race for thoroughbreds. Always held on the first Tuesday in November, it attracts a field of quality stayers with European and Japanese horses augmenting the local entrants. Total prizemoney for the Cup is $7.3 million with the winner pocketing a cool $4 million plus trophies.
But it’s more than just a race; it’s a National Institution that rivals Australia Day and Anzac Day as a celebration of all things Australian. Indeed it could be argued that there is no event that unifies Australians like the Melbourne Cup.
THE DERBY The Victorian Derby was first run in 1855, won by Rose of May, over the ‘Classic distance’ of 1 1/2 miles. This became 2400m in 1972 when Australia went metric but was changed to 2500m in 1973 to give an extra 100m to the first turn, thereby making the running safer as the jockeys vie for position soon after the start.