Considered by Australian turf enthusiasts to be one of the greatest horse races in the world, the Melbourne Cup is held annually at Flemington Racecourse, Victoria, on the first Tuesday in November. In Victoria, Cup Day is celebrated with a public holiday. The first Melbourne Cup was staged by the Victorian Turf Club in 1861. It was won by the New South Wales champion, Archer, which returned the next year to win the Cup for a second time. Apart from Archer, three horses have won the Melbourne Cup twice: Peter Pan (1932 and 1934), Rain Lover (1968 and 1969) and Think Big (1974 and 1975).
The actual Cup trophy
was not introduced until 1916
, the original prize
being money and a gold watch
. The Melbourne Cup is today Australia’s richest race. The 2001 winner, Ethereal, earned a total of $1,600,000, which includes the value of three trophies, one each for the owner, trainer
The race has been run with as few as seven horses and as many as thirty-nine, and is now limited to a maximum of twenty-six in the interests of safety. In 1972 the distance was reduced by 18 m from the traditional two miles (3.218 km) to 3,200 m.