Tourism

15 fun facts you didn’t know about Melbourne Cup

Yes, it’s that time again when the ladies frock up and gentlemen don their suits, and then we all go and get on the champers (sorry to our boss if you’re reading this).

It’s Melbourne Cup, the race that stops a nation!

So in celebration of this wonderful and frivolous Australian tradition that allows us to link our patriotism with alcohol and gambling, we’ve rounded up 15 unique facts about the race that you may or may not already know.

Please enjoy, and then shout yourself a glass of bubbly.

1. How much will be wagered on the race?

According to stats from 2015, by the time the Spring Carnival, horse racing’s most prestigious season is over, Australians will bet around the $1.5 billion mark.

2. What is the estimated spend on fashion?

During the 2014 Spring Carnival more than $52 million was spent on fashion and retail.

Ninety-one per cent of women are willing to spend up to $200 on grooming for Melbourne Cup, and 86 per cent admit to forking out up to $200 on accessories alone.

By comparison, more than 70 per cent of men said they would not spend any money on accessories, including ties, cuff-links and shoes. Of those men who do, 76 per cent would spend up to $200.

3. What is the increase in Champagne sales on the day?

Australians drink the equivalent of 25 million swimming pools of alcohol between breakfast and dinner on Cup day.

4. Which year saw the least amount of cash come in?

It was a frugal year for the Cup in 1900, where due to the hard economic times and a little thing called The Great Depression, a simple tea and coffee service was presented in lieu of a trophy.

5. How much does the winning jockey get?

The The 2017 Melbourne Cup offers a purse containing $6.2 million in prize money. This purse will maintain the Melbourne Cup’s status as the world’s richest handicap race.

To put it in perspective, there are currently only two horse races offering more prize money than the Melbourne Cup, the Dubai World Cup (USD$10,000,000) held on the synthetic track at Meydan, and the Japan Cup (AUD$6,800,000), which is held on grass.

6. What scandalous thing happened on the Derby Day race in 1965?

British model Jean Shrimpton donned a miniskirt much to the shock of the crowds, not to mention no hat, gloves or stockings.

7. What are the crowds like?

The crowd at the first Cup was a measly 4000. Nowadays, more than 100,000 people usually attend Flemington Racecourse. The highest ever recorded attendance was in 2003 when the number reached 122,736.

8. How many viewers will watch the race live on TV?

More than 90 per cent of Australians over the age of 14 are predicted by Channel 7 to watch the race.

9. Which state bets the most money?

NSW takes the cake when it comes to who bets the most money. The average amount gambled per person each year in The Mother State is $1200 — a mighty 22 per cent above the national average.

10. How many male horses have won versus female?

In the past 12 years, five Melbourne Cup winners were mares (female horses). Male horses have taken 137 of 153 wins, while 16 females have won since the beginning of the Cup. Meanwhile, Michelle Payne is the only female jockey to have won the Melbourne Cup (2015).

The Melbourne Cup did not originally allow women to compete, with Maree Lyndon becoming the first female to do so with horse Argonaut Style in 1987.

11. What’s the luckiest barrier draw?

Melbourne Cup favourite Fame Game has drawn ideally in barrier 12 for the Melbourne Cup. Barrier 18 has never been a winning Melbourne Cup gate, while only two Melbourne Cup winners have carried the 18 saddlecloth.

Stalls were introduced at the 1924 Melbourne Cup, and there’s been a spooky curse on barrier 18 ever since. A couple of years ago, Sea Moon hoped to break the curse – until it was scratched. Meanwhile, barriers 9 and 12 have each had four wins in the past 12 years.

12. How long after the Cup til I can bet on next year?

Half an hour after the Melbourne Cup, you can bet on next year’s race. You used to have wait until the following August.

13. How many favourites have missed out on a place?

Out of 153 runnings of the Melbourne Cup, the favourite has won 35 and placed in 72, leaving 46 without a podium finish.

14. What’s the record trifecta dividend?

The record Melbourne Cup Trifecta dividend was a huge $61,867.90 paid out back in 1993.

15. How much does the average punter spend?

Average spend per punter on the Melbourne Cup odds is approximately $8.50, of which $7.30 is returned in dividends.

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