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The Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is known as "the race that stops a nation". It's become a national institution generating more interest and zany activity than any other race in Australia. Melbourne Cup Day is the most famous Tuesday in Australia. No matter what Australians are doing, at 3pm AEST on the first Tuesday in November, people everywhere stop to listen to the race call or watch it on TV. It's also a day of great festivity at the Flemington Racecourse. Ladies attending the world famous race try to outdo each other with costumes and hats either the height of fashion or the height of weird.

The Melbourne Cup is the world's richest handicap race with prize money of more than A$6 million. Almost everyone in Australia places a bet on the Melbourne Cup with betting running into several millions of dollars. Run under the auspices of the Victoria Racing Club, the race is held at Flemington, a Melbourne suburb in Victoria.

Melbourne Cup Prize Money

2015 thru 2012 2011 2010 2009 & 2008 2007 thru 2005
$ 6,200,000 $ 6,175,000 $ 6,000,000 $ 5,500,000 $ 5,000,000

The Cup

Since 1919 a gold loving cup worth $175,000 (2013 prices) has been awarded. A miniature replica of the Cup is also given to the winning jockey and trainer. The Tommy Woodcock Trophy is awarded to the strapper. Tommy Woodcock was the strapper for the great horse Phar Lap (1930 Melbourne Cup winner).

Before the present Cup was used, the trophy was a gold watch (1861-4), a silver bowl with two ornate handles and a horse and rider on top (1865-6), a silver trophy showing Alexander Taming the Horse with a figure of a female with wings (1867-75). In 1876 the first Australian-made gold trophy appeared with two handles and an engraving of a Flemington horse race. In 1888 a silver plated base with three silver horses was added making the trophy height 15 inches. Three years later it changed to a 24 inch high trophy with a Victory figure offering an olive wreath to a jockey. In 1899 the trophy became a three-foot long plaque with a silver galloping horse embossed on it. In 1914 the trophy was a chalice centered on a long base with a horse at each end. It was the last Cup made in England. Once again the trophy changed, and in 1915-18 it took the shape of a large rose bowl. The current Melbourne Cup design was introduced in 1919 and has remained the same since then.

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