Described as ‘the race that stops the nation’, the Melbourne Cup is undoubtedly one of the most iconic events in Australian sport.
For many fans it remains the cream of the crop, despite facing stiff competition from the NRL Grand Finals, The Ashes, Formula 1 and many more.
While those events and others captivate their respective audiences, none of them have quite the same appeal as Australia’s most famous horse race.
Staged as part of a four-day festival fun in the state of Victoria, the Melbourne Cup is the perfect excuse for Australians to have a party.
Melbourne Cup Day is even an annual public holiday in Victoria – not many other sporting events have achieved that lofty status.
With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at why the Melbourne Cup is the undisputed king of sports entertainment events in Australia.
Introducing the Melbourne Cup
The Melbourne Cup dates back to 1861, making it one of the longest-standing sporting events staged anywhere in the world.
It is a 3,200-metre race for three-year-olds and older, staged annually at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne on the first Tuesday of November.
The Melbourne Cup is a handicap contest featuring a maximum field of 24 runners who qualify for the event based on several different factors.
The race has increasingly become an international affair in recent years, with numerous top European trainers targeting the event with their top stayers.
However, Australian trainer Bart Cummings is the most successful in Melbourne Cup history having won the race 12 times.
One of the most noteworthy winners of the Melbourne Cup was Phar Lap, who claimed victory carrying 9st 12lbs in 1930.
Makybe Diva is the only horse to win the race in three consecutive years, finishing first in 2003, 2004 and 2005 to cement her name in the history books.
Melbourne Cup Betting
Much like the Aintree Grand National in the United Kingdom, the Melbourne Cup is a race that generates massive interest on online betting sites.
Melbourne Cup Day 2022 generated wagering turnover of $371 million – a figure that included a record $226m bet on the Melbourne Cup.
For many people, the Melbourne Cup is the only race they will bet on each year, which demonstrates its popularity among the masses.
Traffic on the sportsbooks featured on this list of Victorian bookmakers hits record levels on race day, with punters clamouring to find the best odds.
This triggers a flurry of activity on comparison websites, with MyBettingAustralia one the brands who benefit from the prestige of the Melbourne Cup.
They feature up-to-date reviews of a wide range of sportsbook companies, helping punters make informed betting decisions on Australia’s top horse race.
Given its appeal to professional and novice punters alike, it is easy to see why the Melbourne Cup is called ‘the race that stops the nation’.
Melbourne Cup Fashion
Many of the top horse racing meetings worldwide have become strongly associated with fashion – Royal Ascot and the Grand National immediately spring to mind.
However, they would be hard-pushed to rival the Melbourne Cup, which is synonymous for being Australian sport’s most fashionable event of the year.
Barbie was all the rage at last year’s event in homage to the 2023 movie about the Mattel fashion dolls starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.
Thousands of fans descended on Flemington Racecourse resplendent in pink to highlight the strong bond between entertainment and top-class sport.
Bubble-gum gowns and fuchsia power-suits were also hugely popular as Australian sports fans proved they don’t take themselves too seriously.
Singer Delta Goodrem got into the colourful spirit by wearing a Dolce & Gabbana fitted maxi dress littered with botanical patterns paired with a range of black accessories.
With bizarre headwear also a common theme at the Melbourne Cup, the event is a truly grandiose celebration of top-class fashion.
Melbourne Cup – The Place to Be Seen
The prestige attached to any major event can generally be measured by the number of famous people who attend each year.
The Melbourne Cup is a magnet for A-Listers, many of whom travel around the world to be seen at the prestigious event.
For example, did you know that Snoop Dogg attended the race with Jennifer Hawkins in 2008? He probably can’t remember either!
The Melbourne Cup is also a race the top trainers in the world are desperate to add to their CV – a ‘bucket-list’ achievement if you will.
Intriguingly, leading Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien has never claimed a Melbourne Cup win. By contrast, his son Joseph saddled Twilight Payment to victory on 2020.
O’Brien will no doubt be casting envious glances in the direction of compatriot Willie Mullins, who has two fancied runners on Melbourne Cup betting sites.
This level of passion and emotion showcases exactly why the Melbourne Cup is the number one sports entertainment event in Australia.