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Melbourne Cup What horse race is capable of stopping
a nation? There is only one, and everybody knows
the answer...It is Australia's great tradition.
It may not officially be A national day of celebration,
but unofficially it is. The Tooheys New Melbourne
Cup is the most unique race in the world, and the
day itself has no counterpart. No other event on
the Australian calendar comes close, whether it's
a sporting or entertainment event. And it's not
just a day for racing fans, it is a day in which
racing is celebrated by everybody. The entire country
grinds to a halt for the running of the race. Parties
and barbecues are held throughout the nation to
The home of the race and the centerpoint of a nation
for the day - Flemington - is a sea of color and
vibrancy from one end of the course to the other.
People start arriving at 8am and the crowds continue
to build until the start of the race when up to
100,000 will be in attendance to watch the great
event. In the Members' Car Park boot-parties are
the order of the day. Many men arrive in tails and
top hats, but in the crowd, tails and football shorts
add another dimension to the occasion. For the women
it is still about looking one's elegant best and
they come dressed to impress. To be at Flemington
is to feel pure excitement, which builds to a crescendo
at race time. Each buildup to the Tooheys New Melbourne
Cup follows the same pattern.
Before the race a hush descends upon the course,
shattered by a roar that engulfs the crowd when
the gates open to begin the 3200-metre event. At
the winning post the first time around, the leading
horse is greeted with a cheer. The noise quietens
as the field wheels out of the straight with a lap
to go. As they turn into the straight with 600 meters
left, the murmur builds again into a roar at crescendo
as the horses take their last few gut-wrenching
The History of the Melbourne Cup
The first Melbourne Cup held in 1861 was certainly
a dramatic event. According to legend, Archer the
first horse to win the Melbourne Cup was reported
to have walked 850 km (560 miles) from Nowra to
Flemington to be a part of a race, that one day
would capture the spirit of a nation.
While at the time the news of the death of the
explorers Burke and Wills may have kept people away
from the race, a modest crowd of four thousand watched
the seventeen starters and the thrilling lead up.
Before the race commenced, Twilight started early
and was captured only after he had run the whole
course, and tragically, two horses, Dispatch and
Medora, had died after a fall.
The following year Archer raced again to win his
second successive Melbourne Cup. Although it is
rumored, he again had walked from Nowra to Flemington,
many people thought it was more likely that he had
traveled anonymously by ship.
Despite his owner's intention to race Archer for
a third Melbourne Cup, he was unable to do so because
of a technical error. Archer's acceptance nomination
to race failed to arrive in time because it was
delayed in the post. As a result, owners scratched
many horses, in a show of solidarity. This left
a starting field of only seven horses that history
shows was to be the smallest field of horses to
race in the Melbourne Cup.
At ten years of age, Archer fell in a race and
was retired to stud but his place in history was
forever cemented. The first Melbourne Cup winner
was immortalized in the 1984 film 'Archer'.
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