With millions of dollars to be won, the Melbourne Cup is the richest ‘two-mile’ handicap in the world, and one of the richest turf races. It starts at 3pm on the first Tuesday in November. New Zealand horses are frequent entrants.
The 3,200-metre race for three-year-olds and over is conducted on Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. It is longer than the vast majority of thoroughbred races in NZ and Australia. In fact it is gruelling, being at the extreme end of distances raced in NZ and Australia. The present record was set in 1990 by Kingston Rule, with a time of 3:16. The level of effort required to race two miles at such high speed is very severe.
The race is also a handicap contest in which the weight of the jockey and riding gear is adjusted with ballast to a nominated figure. The minimum handicap weight is 50 kg. The distance, speed and weight carried by these horses places them under severe strain, and leg fractures and other injuries are commonplace.
Melbourne Cup deaths in recent years have included:
- 2017: Regal Monarch fell in race four and was subsequently euthanased at the University of Melbourne Veterinary Clinic due to injuries sustained
- 2015: Red Cadeaux was euthanised due to complications following a break in his foreleg that caused a loss of blood supply to the injury
- 2014: Admire Rakti died of a heart attack on finishing last while a favourite for the race. He was carrying a high handicap weight of 58.5kg
- 2014: Araldo was euthanised after breaking his leg when he was startled after the race and kicked a fence
- 2013: Verema was euthanised on the track after breaking her leg