Your Ultimate Guide to the Melbourne Cup

Your Ultimate Guide to the Melbourne Cup

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 10/29/2019

Reading time: 4 mins

You’ll see it on TV, you’ll read about it in the papers, but nothing will compare to experiencing the Melbourne Cup yourself. If you’ve not attended the Melbourne Cup before, then here’s all you need to know.

Super Saturday at Flemington Racecourse

What is the Melbourne Cup?

The Melbourne Cup is the most famous horse race in Australia with horses aged three-years-old and over competing by running the 3200metre racecourse in Flemington. Held on the first Tuesday in November, Victoria celebrates the day with a public holiday. Three other race days take place during the same week however it is the Tuesday event that gains the most attention.

The first Melbourne Cup was held in 1861, and the event soon took on the identity of a carnival, with celebrations, parties, and shows. The rich and famous also began to take an interest in the event, transforming it into the veritable catwalk show that we see today. Around 100,000 attend the event and some would argue that the fashion and festivities have become more important than the race itself.

What time is the Melbourne Cup?

The race on the 5th of November 2019 will start at 3pm. After all the excitement and build-up to this event, the atmosphere will be electric as everyone clutches their betting slips in anxious anticipation. The race itself only lasts around 3 minutes but with millions of dollars bet by the crowds and with an $8million prize for the winner, those are an important 3 minutes!

The day itself comprises 10 races but the Cup is at 3pm and is always the 7th race of the day. This run is often called the ‘race that stops a nation’, since many businesses and schools in Australia will stop to watch or listen to it.

How many horses race?

Melbourne Cup horses

24 horses are due to race at the Melbourne Cup, each hoping to walk (or ride) away with the massive grand prize. Hundreds of horses will be entered into the races, however the final line up is decided following balloting and handicapping and the running of the Lexus Stakes race on Derby Day.

How to get there

The Melbourne Cup is held at Flemington Racecourse. There are many ways to get to the station since it is served by trams, trains, and buses. The number 57 tram will take you to Newmarket, the closest stop to the ground. If you’re coming from the CBD then simply hop on at the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth St and the tram will take you the whole way there. Plenty of trains also run to Newmarket station. so there are lots of travel options. and there are plenty of trains that also run to this stop.

If you’re travelling by bus then you can either get the 472 or the 404, the only difference being that the 472 will take you to the Riverbank entrance whereas the 404 will take you to the Stables Drive entrance.

What to wear

Myer Fashions on the Field

Dress to impress! The Melbourne Cup is not a time to be shy and you can guarantee that everyone there will be trying to make an impact. Wear your best dress, make sure that your shirt is ironed and don’t forget an elaborate headpiece. And if the weather is looking bad, then don’t be surprised if you end up with a slightly soggy pair of shoes.

Overall, the Melbourne Cup is a day of extravagance, where attendees get to abandon their everyday selves, don their best outfits and have an incredible time. Of course, the horse racing is intended to be the big draw of the day but even if you’re not a clued-up race supporter you can still be a part of the action.

Related article: What is Melbourne like in the spring?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.