Once a year, on the first Tuesday of November punters come out of the woodwork in droves to bet on the Melbourne Cup or even attend its full to bursting affair at Flemington Racecourse.

While the expert punters approach the Cup like it’s any other race, for the regular folk it’s all about picking the amusing names, favourite numbers and colours or taking a general stab in the dark. And if you can’t be bothered going this far, why not opt for the mystery bet?

Let’s take a look at why the Melbourne Cup continues to create ongoing fervour for all Australians and even New Zealanders.

  1. It’s Australian! Do you know of any other countries to have a horse race that ‘stops a nation’? The majority of Australians stop what they are doing, whether they are at work, home, a pub or Flemington Racecourse, and watch horses run 3,200 metres around a track. Explain the significance of the Melbourne Cup to a Brit and hear them say, ‘hold your horses. You’ve gone bananas!’

  2. A Public Holiday In Melbourne It’s on days like this you really wish you lived in Melbourne. A public holiday to watch races, gamble and drink – what could be better than that? If you happen to be a hospitality worker, care worker or retailer, you may be able to work for double the pay on the big day. If you are not in Melbourne you may be entitled to a half-day, or at least a gathering at work to watch the ‘race that stops a nation’.Bet you didn’t know the public holiday was officially gazetted as a public holiday in 1877 when racing barons wanted to attach their big event to a public holiday for the Prince of Wales’ birthday. Well, now you know.

  3. A Day For Rookie Punters Even if you know nothing about horses, trainers, jockeys and horse racing it doesn’t matter on Melbourne Cup Day. You won’t be laughed at for picking a horse for its funny name or your favourite colours. You can still have a fun flutter.

  4. A Day For Roughies The Melbourne Cup horses are not all favourites with low odds tagged against them. The Cup also accommodates the ‘roughies’ or most unpromising horses, which can often surprise you by appearing in the trifecta or first four. Pick a roughie with high odds and you could be up for some significant cash. With the favourite winning just 34 out of 158 times (a strike rate of 23%), don’t be afraid to back a roughie.

  5. A Day For Fillies And Stallions To Get Dolled Up There is nothing quite like putting on a swanky frock or dashing suit and feeling like you belong with the elite. You might be so lucky as to rub shoulders with the stars and get up close and personal with the leading stars of the show – horses and jockeys. And only at the races can you be right up near the fence while the winner is escorted back to the scales. So, ladies – glam yourself up in a dress, high heels, slap on some fake tan and pop on a fascinator. Gents – dust off that old suit you used for interviews back in the day, slip on a tie and feel refined and sophisticated as you step out into the crowd with the rest of the folk dressed to the nines. The feeling of fraternising with high society won’t last long though. Within hours, it will seem more like a supersized party of sloppy loud-mouthed drunks while booze is dished out by the gallon.

  6. The Traditional Sweeps If you are not much of a gambler you might prefer to enter sweeps, which are cheap, easy and a lot of fun. It is the most basic way of picking a horse – straight out of a hat! You might do this with a group of friends or colleagues at work.

  7. It Is Acceptable To Drink On A Tuesday There are not many Tuesdays on the calendar when it is completely acceptable to get spruced up and head on down to the local or Flemington for a few alcoholic beverages and a bet. Rather than furrowed brows and tuts from passers-by, you will be met my smiles and well wishes. If you don’t plan on going to the Racecourse, go out for a nice lunch with your friends or hold a barbie.

  8. The Day For Bart Cummings If you don’t know who Bart Cummings is you really have been living under a rock or know absolutely nothing about the Melbourne Cup. Bart Cummings, horse trainer and Australian legend, is famous not only for winning the Cup 12 times but also for his big bushy eyebrows.

  9. Melbourne Cup Stats A famous horse race in its 159th year wouldn’t be without a deluge of historical facts and statistics.

    Here is a list of the more interesting ones:

  • Archer was the first horse to win the Melbourne Cup in 1861 and went on to win in 1862 as well. A useful fact to take to your next trivia night.

  • British-bred and Australian-trained thoroughbred, Makybe Diva won the Melbourne Cup three years in a row (2003, 2004 and 2005).

  • Remember Phar Lap? If you didn’t know that Phar Lap won 37 of the 51 horse races that he entered, including the Melbourne Cup, you may have come across his taxidermied body in the Museum of Victoria. Sadly, Phar Lap was killed by arsenic poisoning.

  • Michelle Payne was the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup in 2015, breeding hope for female jockeys in the future.

There you have it, some reasons why the Melbourne Cup is the thing of Australian legend, and it isn’t fading any time soon. The Cup can bring tears of joy to our eyes and raise the hairs on the back of our necks. And this is why we love it so much.

Do you love or hate the Melbourne Cup? Tell us in the comments below.


  • Have been to the Melbourne Cup and was fascinated by the dresses and the complete fun of the day. I don’t bet so wasn’t worried about that side of things. But having done it once, I don’t hanker to do it again.


  • I found the Melbourne Cup suddenly became completely meaningless when I no longer worked.


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