Encyclopedia > Melbourne Cup

  Article Content

Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is an annual thoroughbred horse race over 3200 metres, held on the first Tuesday in November since 1861 at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Australia. It is run as a "weight-for-age handicap", in which the weight of jockey, and riding gear is adjusted with ballast to a nominated figure. Older horses are given more weight than younger ones, and weightings are further adjusted according to the horse's previous results.

In the past, such weightings were performed to theoretically give each horse an equal chance of winning the cup, but in recent years the rules have been adjusted to that of a "quality handicap" where superior horses are given less severe weight penalties than would be the case under pure handicap rules. It is generally regarded as the most prestigious "two-mile" (the race was originally held over a distance of two miles, which is approximately 3218 metres) handicap in the world. It is one of the most popular spectator events in Melbourne, with over 110,000 people, some dressed in traditional formal raceday wear and others in all manner of exotic and/or amusing costumes attending the race.

Race day in Melbourne is a public holiday, and around the country, a large majority of people gamble on the race, either through direct betting or participating in cup "sweeps". Its description as the "race that stops a nation" is well-deserved.

Racing purists and "serious" betters dislike the Cup, as the unusually long distance and handicap rules make the result highly unpredictable and allows mediocre horses to win. They regard the Cox Plate[?], a 2000 metre weight-for-age race, as a true indication of the best horses in Australia.

The race has undergone several alterations over the past decade, the most visible being the arrival of many foriegn horses to contest the race (notwithstanding the many winners from New Zealand including the famous Phar Lap) in the last decade. Most have failed to cope with the conditions, with only Irish trainer Dermott weld successful, in 1993 with Vintage Crop and 2002 with Media Puzzle. The attraction for foriegners to compete, however, was the far less visible changes to the handicapping regulations. Instead of the aim of handicapping each horse such that every one in the field theoretically has the same chance to win, the new "quality handicap" rules award smaller weight penalties to the better-performed horses but not to the extent of the old rules. The results have been, even more interest from locals and new international interest in the race.

The 2001 Melbourne Cup was won by New Zealand mare Ethereal, trained by Shiela Laxon, the first woman to formally train a Cup winner.

Melbourne Cup Winners:

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article

... young women despite their independence. These flapper women took this rebelliousness further than anyone could have imagined. Flappers had their own slang, with terms ...

This page was created in 29.5 ms