See & Do

The Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is the race that stops a nation.

Melbourne may be the only city in the world that has a public holiday around a thoroughbred horse race. Since 1861, the city has stopped on the first Tuesday of November for this three-minute, 3,200 meter race. This year, 24 horses competed for the Cup and the $6.2 million prize. Favourites included 2010 winner Americain and 2011 winner Dunaden, but in a stunning upset, Green Moon shone brighter and placed first. Americain and Dunaden placed 11th and 14th respectively.

The Melbourne Cup is part of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, which is made up of 114 races between late September and mid-November, but there’s more to it than just racing. Off the track, there are lunches, cocktail parties, dinners, balls, and fashion parades. Ladies exchange their winter coats for bright spring dresses and elegant hats. Hats are so popular that the Carnival alone almost keeps Melbourne’s milliners in business. Male fashion is not too shabby either.

The Melbourne Cup is attracts people who are otherwise not interested in racehorsing and is one of the biggest betting events in Australia. I got into the spirit of it and watched the race with Theo and friends over bubbly and barbecue. I even bet $10 on Green Moon. I don’t know anything about race-horsing and picked the winning horse based on its name. Not bad for a beginner. Next year, I’ll wear a hat.

Do you follow horse racing? Did you watch the Melbourne Cup?



  • Sounds a bit like the Triple Crown races in the US, especially the first one, the Kentucky Derby. The ladies get all fancy and wear ridiculous looking hats, or as they are actually called “fascinators.” There are a whole slew of traditions that go along with it. However, the races usually take place on a weekend so we don’t get the days off. A few years ago, when Her Majesty was visiting the US, Queen Elizabeth actually attended the Kentucky Derby!

    I can tell you American media didn’t cover it. The election and Hurricane Sandy have overshadowed everything else. We still don’t have power in my neck of the woods, 9 days and counting. There are long lines at every gas station because gas is in short supply. Too crazy to process anything else happening in the world!

    • Yes, I’d say the Triple Crown is a good comparison. I don’t think the American media covers the Melbourne Cup. I’d never heard of it until I came here. I hope you get your power back soon! I was watching election coverage yesterday and Time Square was looking great. You’d never think a storm went through there. Thanks for your comments and I’m glad you’re okay 🙂

  • My mom just loves horses and horse races and her dream has always been to attend one. She previously had no interest in visiting Australia until I told her about the Melbourne Cup and now she keeps talking about how she has to come visit me. Or rather, visit the horses. But I’d go to a horse race just so I could play dress up and bet on a horse with a cool sounding name. Green Moon sounds like a good name. I would have bet on that one.

    • I think it sounds fun. I went to Myer last week in the CBD and it was all decked out for the event and they were selling tons of unique hats.