In 1861, at the first running of the Melbourne Cup, the race club committee could hardly have envisaged the Cup lasting a century and a half and growing to become a significant part of Australia’s social and sporting culture.
In front of an estimated crowd of 4,000 people, Archer became the first winner of the Melbourne Cup and Victorians, and the wider Australian community, were already displaying their great passion for thoroughbred racing.
Today, the Melbourne Cup is the richest handicap race held in Australia, and the prize money and trophies make it among the richest horseraces in the world.
At the time of the first Cup, Victoria was experiencing the gold rush and many people had flocked to Melbourne in the hope of finding gold. A few gold-diggers were fortunate and became wealthy, and they enjoyed splurging at Flemington.
Champion horses have always thrilled spectators. There are stories of endurance, scandal, controversy, tragedy and heroism including great horses such as Carbine (1890), Phar Lap (1930) and Peter Pan (1932), all to today’s Makybe Diva. And the one goal of horse trainers continues to be to set records in thoroughbred racing.