Another week in Australia, another horse race! Last Tuesday was the illustrious Melbourne Cup, dubbed “the race that stops the nation”. For those that are interested in thoroughbred horse racing (Kentucky folks, I’m talking to you!), here are some quick facts about the race:
- The race is 3,200 meters or just shy of 2 miles (for a basis of comparison, the Kentucky Derby is 2,012 meters or 1 and 1/4 mile), so these horses are running a ways!
- The cup is held at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria and is always held on the first Tuesday in November (Election Day in the states).
- It is the richest “two-mile” handicap in the world, and one of the richest turf races. Horse qualification is 3 years old and over.
- I was a bit confused on the handicap thing, so Wikipedia helped clear it up a bit: “The Melbourne Cup race is a handicap contest in which the weight of the jockey and riding gear is adjusted with ballast to a nominated figure. Older horses carry more weight than younger ones, and weights are adjusted further according to the horse’s previous results. Minimum jockey weight is 49kg (108lbs).”
- Attendance to the Melbourne Cup typically hovers around 100,000 spectators at the Flemington Racecourse.
- Melbourne Cup day is a public holiday for all working within metropolitan Melbourne and some parts of regional Victoria. And while we didn’t have a public holiday in Perth, there were plenty of events, parties, lunches, betting, and spectating around the city.
Which brings me to how I spent Melbourne Cup 2014! In hindsight, Barr and I wished we had gone to Melbourne for the big day, but since it was a random Tuesday, it makes things a bit tricky!
The American Women’s Club organized a big group of us to get a table at the Subiaco Hotel for lunch, drinks, dress up, and race watching. The Subi Hotel put on a nice luncheon and we had a ball (even though my horse didn’t win! We did have a “big” winner at our table, which was fun 🙂 ).
The winner of the 2014 Melbourne Cup was Protectionist, who finished the 2 mile race in 3 minutes and 17 seconds, beating the second place horse by 4 lengths – a pretty significant margin!
This year’s race was a tad marred, however, by the deaths of two of the horses: Admire Rakti and Araldo. Admire Rakti was the favorite horse going into the Melbourne Cup and sadly ended up finishing last when his jockey felt something was amiss after the first turn and pulled up on him; after the race, he was led to his stable and suffered from cardiac arrest. Araldo broke on of his hind legs following the race, after being spooked by a spectator and an errant flag waved in his face (as a result, flags are now banned from the Melbourne Cup).
I don’t want to end on a Debbie Downer note though! So here is one last picture of us enjoying the fun that the Melbourne Cup does offer – cheers to Susie for helping to organize a great afternoon watching the ponies 🙂 Until next time…