Melbourne Cup Day

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Melbourne Cup Day

First Tuesday in November
The only public holiday in the world dedicated to a horse race, Melbourne Cup Day has been observed in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, since the first Cup race was held there in 1867. The event actually features seven races, including the grueling handicap race of just under two miles, which is run by some 20 thoroughbreds for a purse worth $4 million. The story of Phar Lap, the legendary New Zealand thoroughbred who won the Cup in 1930 after nearly being shot by unscrupulous gamblers, was made into a movie— Far Lap (1984), directed by Simon Wincer—that made the Cup an event familiar to people all over the world.
Cup Day is not only a legal holiday in the state of Victoria, but is observed throughout the world in offices where Australians work. For those who attend, it is a particularly glamorous event. The champagne flows, huge sums of money are wagered, and the women wear lavish hats while the men turn out in grey top hats and dark morning suits. There are similar races held in other Australian states ( see Hobart Cup Day), but the Melbourne Cup is still the number one classic of the Australian horseracing circuit.
A six-week festival, known as the Spring Racing Carnival, leads up to the big day and lasts well into November.
CONTACTS:
Victoria Racing Club
400 Epson Rd.
Flemington, VIC 3031 Australia
61-3-0072-7575
www.vrc.net.au
Australian Cultural Network
Department of Communications, Information Technology, and the Arts, Australian Government
P.O. Box 2154
Canberra City, ACT 2601 Australia
61-2-6271-1000; fax: 61-2-6271-1901
www.acn.net.au
SOURCES:
AnnivHol-2000, p. 198
DictDays-1988, p. 75

Celebrated in: Australia

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