Melbourne Cup FAQ

Melbourne Cup FAQ

  • Why is the Melbourne Cup so famous?

    The Melbourne Cup brings together a few factors that make it notable. At 3200 meters it is one of the longest Group 1 stayers races in the world, it was the richest race in Australia for most of its history, and it is considered the most prestigious age for weight handicap race in the world. Last but not least it has a heritage stretching back to 1861.

  • Where is the Melbourne Cup held?

    The Melbourne Cup is run in the Australian city of Melbourne, in the state of Victoria. The race takes place at Flemington Racecourse, as part of the venue’s Spring Racing Carnival.

  • What day is the Melbourne Cup run on?

    The Melbourne Cup is always run on the first Tuesday in November. The race is always scheduled to start at 3pm.

  • What are the entry requirements for the Melbourne Cup?

    To compete in the Melbourne Cup a horse must be 3-years-old or above, and it’s connections must be able to pay cumulative entry fees of over $50,000.

  • How much does it cost to enter a horse in the Melbourne Cup?

    There are five separate fees that must be paid before a horse competes in the Melbourne Cup:

    • an initial entry fee of $600
    • a first acceptance fee of $960
    • a second acceptance fee of $1,450
    • a third acceptance fee of $2,420
    • a final acceptance fee of $45,375.
  • How many horses are entered into the Melbourne Cup every year?

    Between 300 and 400 horses are nominated by their trainers to compete in the Melbourne Cup annually. Of these only 24 will appear on race day.

  • Can a horse qualify automatically for the Melbourne Cup?

    Yes, a horse that wins any of the following races will automatically make the final field if entered into the race:

    • Lexus Stakes (formerly Saab Quality and registered as The Hotham Handicap)
    • Cox Plate
    • Caulfield Cup
    • The Bart Cummings
    • Doncaster Cup (UK)
    • Irish St. Leger (IRE)
    • Tenno Sho (Spring) (JPN)
    • Sankei Sho All Comers (JPN)
    • Arlington Million (USA)
    • San Juan Capistrano Handicap (USA)
    • Australian Stayers Challenge.


  • What are the quarantine requirements for the Melbourne Cup

    Horses from outside of New Zealand and Australia are required to spend 14 days in quarantine before travelling to Australia, at premises meeting Australian Government Standards.

  • Is a trophy awarded for the Melbourne Cup?

    A new 18-carat gold trophy is created annually and awarded to the owner of the winner of the Melbourne Cup. The trainer wins a smaller replica of this trophy, while the strapper wins the Tommy Woodcock Trophy.

  • What is the prize money for the Melbourne Cup?

    The total prize fund for the Melbourne Cup is $6,200,000. This is distributed between the horses that finish the race in the top 10.

  • How is the prize money for the Melbourne Cup distributed?

    The owner of the racehorse received 85% of the prize money, 10% of the prize money goes to the trainer and the jockey earns 5%.

    If you’re wondering how the prize money for the Melbourne Cup is distributed between horses:

    • $3.6 million goes to the winner
    • $900,000 is paid for second place
    • $450,000 is paid for third place
    • $250,000 is paid for fourth place
    • $175,000 is paid for fifth place
    • $125,000 is paid to horses who finish in sixth to tenth place.
  • What is the maximum weight a horse can carry in the Melbourne Cup?

    Surprisingly, there is no maximum weight restriction. However, there is a minimum top weight, with the horse carrying the heaviest weight required to carry at least 57 kg.

  • How are Melbourne Cup weights calculated?

    Melbourne Cup weights are allocated on based on two factors. The first is the age of the entry, with older horses carrying more weight than younger ones. Once weights are declared in early September, additional weight is assigned for every win a horse achieves an internationally recognized Listed, Group or Graded handicap flat race, or any handicap race with a value of over $55,000, over the next two months.

  • What is the record time for a Melbourne Cup win?

    Kingston Rule won the Melbourne Cup in 1990 in a time 3:16.3. This time set the record for the Melbourne Cup over its current distance. Prior to the reduction of the race distance, Rain Lover held the record over 3.219 km with a time of 13:19.1, set in 1968.

  • Who is the most successful trainer in Melbourne Cup history?

    Bart Cummings is the most successful Melbourne Cup trainer by a considerable margin, with 12 Melbourne Cup wins. Lee Freedman and Etienne de Mestre hold joint second place with 5 winners apiece.

  • Who is the most successful owner in Melbourne Cup history?

    Tycoon property developer Lloyd Williams has won the Melbourne Cup with six different horses.

  • What are the longest odds the Melbourne Cup has been won at?

    The Melbourne Cup has been won by four horses priced at 100/1.

  • Has the Melbourne Cup ever been cancelled?

    No. However, it has been postponed or run on days other than the first Tuesday in November.

  • Why is the Melbourne Cup a public holiday?

    The Melbourne Cup is the only race in the world that has caused a day to be gazetted as a public holiday. This happened in 1871, when the race day was made an official public holiday in the state of Victoria. It is not recognized as a public holiday outside of the state, however.

  • Why do so many foreign horses compete in the Melbourne Cup?

    Apart from the large prize fund, the Melbourne Cup tweaked its handicap rules to reduce the weight penalties on top quality horses. This resulted in more champion horses from abroad being entered into the race, without having to suffer major penalties for their exploits in their own countries.

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