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Melbourne Cup Australia

The Cup

The first Melbourne cup was in 1861, which was won by a horse called Archer carrying 9 stone 7 pounds the following year he was to win it again with the weight of 10 stone 2 pounds. The length of the race is 3200m (2 miles). It is the race that stops the nation, people have sweeps in their office where you pay to choose a horse at random which is very popular, people stop doing what they are doing and are either around a radio or tv for the duration of the race, with everything else forgotten.

It is claimed that when Archer won the race in 1861 he had walked from Nowra to Flemington to compete. Records do show though that the horse did walk to Sydney then was carried by a steamer ship to Melbourne.

For people who do not know how much of Australia the distance is approxmately 1050 kilometers.

The first cup was run on a Thursday where now it is always the first Tuesday of  November. It is at Flemington race course Melbourne. The racecourse has a circumference of 2314 meters. So the horses run past the winning post twice in the race.

Aerial Shot of Flemington racecourse

The race is usually won by the male horses, only eleven female horses have won the race since it started, none of them able to win the race again the following year. Winning the race gives the horse the chance to be in the Melbourne cup again the following year.

There has been only three horses able to win the race the following year, "Archer" 1861/62, "Rain Lover"  1968/69 and "Think Big"  1974/75. There was one other horse who won the race with a year inbetween  "Peter Pan" 1932, 1934.

There has been only one female jockey in the cup Maree Lyndon from New Zealand finishing unplaced on  "Argonaut Style" in 1987.

The trophy was not awarded till 1916, the first trophy to be awared was a hand beaten gold watch.

One horse that is known by most people in Australia is "Phar Lap" He was first seen by a man called Harry Telford, not having the money to buy him he persuaded David Davis to buy the horse. When Davis first saw the horse he was unimpressed with what he saw, as Phar Lap was not a very pretty horse to look at. Telford and Davis made a deal that Telford would lease the horse for three years.

Tommy Woodcock who was an apprentice jokey at the age of 12, was working as a straper. When Telford noticed the affinity between the horse and him he had Woodock to work the horse.
Woodcock did not agree with how Telford was training Phar Lap, training him hard. Woodcock and Phar Lap who formed a close relationship, suggested to Telford to train him a different way bringing the best out of him.

Tommy Woodcock with Phar Lap

Phar Lap domminated the races in the early 1930's. It was the time of the depression and this horse bought joy to people by his heroic winning. He is the only horse to have been the favourite in three consecutive Cups. In 1930 there was an attempt to shoot him. For the rest of the day someone was with him, he went on to win the VRC Melbourne Stakes that afternoon.

Phar Lap winning the 1930 Melbourne Cup