The Melbourne Cup is the biggest horse racing event in Australia, one of the biggest in the world, and it is competitive with the major events of even the most popular of sports in Australia. While the general public may not stop to watch a footy grand final, practically everyone in Australia watches the Melbourne Cup when it is on. The moniker of "The race that stops a nation" isnít a boast when it comes to the Melbourne Cup Ė you would be hard-pressed to find a business, educational institution or any large group of people who were not watching the race on Melbourne Cup day.
Run over a distance of 3200 metres, the Melbourne Cup is quite a bit longer than other major worldwide races. The race is run on a turf track at Flemington Racecourse on the first Tuesday of November every year. This day is declared a public holiday in the Melbourne metropolitan area. Many businesses outside of Melbourne resign themselves to a half-day, though, and hold a Melbourne Cup party in the afternoon, but this is by no means universal.
The race is open to three-year-old and older thoroughbreds, and it is a handicap race. There is a minimum handicap weight of 49 kilograms, but no maximum. However, there is oddly a minimum weight for the largest handicap of 57 kilograms. This is somewhat unusual for a handicap race, as most will simply have handicaps set as appropriate.
The number of people that attend the Melbourne Cup is truly incredible. This is due to a number of factors. The public holiday in Melbourne certainly encourages attendance, as well as the incredibly important race. It is the Melbourne Cup fashion that really fills out the stands the rest of the way, though, as the Melbourne Cup is an incredibly popular social event.
For those who are considering attending the event, the 2011 Melbourne Cup will be held on 1 November. It is definitely wise to make arrangements to attend well in advance. The Melbourne Cup draws massive crowds, is preceded and followed by other important races in the days surrounding it, and has incredible local support. It is advised that overseas visitors book as early as possible.