The Melbourne Cup is one of the longest running horse races in both Australia and the world, having started way back in 1861 when it was won by Archer. Over the years, just like anything steeped in history, the race has developed some unusual customs, and many interesting stories and facts have emerged from the race.
In this post we’ll take a look at just a few unusual Melbourne Cup customs and trivia.
The Favourite Doesn’t Always Win the Race
In fact, the odds on favourite for the Melbourne Cup actually has a lower winning percentage than your average horse race. With racing in Australia in general, the race favourite wins approximately 30% of the time. With the Melbourne Cup though, that percentage drops to only around 23%. Maybe this is because more amateur punters place bets on the great race than they do on regular races, skewing the odds somewhat.
It’s the Only Horse Race That Brings An Entire Nation To a Standstill
Not only is it the only horse race in Australia that holds the nation spellbound, likely the Melbourne Cup is the only thoroughbred race in the entire world that has such a dramatic effect. It’s rare for any event to bring a whole country to a grinding halt, let alone a sporting even like a horse race, but that is the mystical power of the Cup.
The Melbourne Cup Has Its Own Public Holiday
It’s very unusual for any sporting event around the globe to produce its own public holiday, but the Melbourne Cup is one of those rare breeds of events. While it’s not a national public holiday, it is a holiday in all of Melbourne and surrounding areas. Maybe one day it’ll become a national day off. Many people across the country usually stop work early in the afternoon anyway, effectively having a half day off.
The Race Goes Ahead No Matter What
Even during the dark days of the war years during the First and Second World Wars the Melbourne Cup was still run. During the endless poverty and repression of the Great Depressions of the 1920s and 1930s, the race still went ahead as scheduled. It seems that there’s nothing on this Earth that will stop the Melbourne Cup from taking place. It has an air of invincibility about it, even though it’s just a horse race. Twice it has been postponed due to extreme wet weather, but never cancelled.
The Cup Has Its Own Official Flower for Race Day
Flemington has always been a race track renowned for its beautiful array of flowers. Go there any time of the year and you’ll see the track adorned in a potpourri of stunning roses. Thousands and thousands of them. On the day of the running of the Melbourne Cup the rose that takes pride of place is the yellow rose. Yellow roses are the official floral emblem of the race, a tradition that has been in place for many years.
The Race Takes Place On a Tuesday of All Days
Most major races on the Australian thoroughbred racing calendar traditionally occur on a Saturday, but the great Melbourne Cup is a little different and happens on a Tuesday afternoon. Whether this is a bid by race organisers to differentiate the Cup from other races, further adding to its reverence, is anybody’s guess, but it does make the race stand out as being extra special. Would the race be even more popular if it was held on a Saturday?
There Has Only Ever Been One Triple Winner
The Melbourne Cup has been running every year for more than a century and a half now, yet in all that time there is only one racehorse that has ever won the coveted trophy 3 times; and not only 3 times, but 3 years in succession. That champion horse was Makybe Diva, achieving this monumental feat in 2003, 2004 and once more in 2005. It’s an accomplishment that is likely to never be repeated in our lifetimes, if ever. Most horses don’t race that many Melbourne Cups for starters, and to race that many and win all of them is an incredible accomplishment.
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