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An Unreal History Of the Melbourne Cup

Over the next week the airwaves will be inundated with epic, sepia toned, historical flashbacks of the Cup Greats, voiced by over Australianised narrators to coincide with the 150th Melbourne Cup.

We have a saying at Turf Deli :
If there is a bandwagon, we want to be on it.

So, over Cup week we are proud to present, An Unreal 150 Year History of the Melbourne Cup.

Part One : 1861 - 1930 BB (Before Bart)

1861 - ARCHER
The very First Melbourne Cup was run in 1861. Famously won by ARCHER who is the subject of an urban legend that he was walked from Nowra to Melbourne. Apparently he actually went by steam boat. The confusion arose because he had to walk from Flinders Street to Flemington when the Melbourne train system failed on a major race day. Yet again.

1862 - ARCHER
ARCHER rewrites the history books when he becomes the first horse starting with A to win both the First and Second Melbourne Cups, a feat that has never been replicated.

1863 - BANKER
In the lead up to the big race, the heavily promoted VRC competition of "Who would win the Greatest Melbourne Cup ever run - ARCHER or ARCHER" fizzles and fails to grab the public's imagination.

In 1875, the Cup is first run on a Tuesday. This day was wisely chosen because just in case it ever became a public holiday, it would be ridiculously easy to take Monday off as well and make it a 4 day weekend.

1877 - CHESTE
The Melbourne Cup first becomes an official public holiday in 1877. Unfortunately for punters, the proposal to make the whole week one week long punting holiday doesn't get approved.

In 1879 the First Caulfield Cup was run. Also known as the first year of the Caulfield - Melbourne Cups double and the bookmarkers have been rolling with laughter ever since.


1890 - CARBINE
The biggest field of all time, a whopping 39 runners contest the race in 1890. It would take well over 100 years of progress, development and human ingenuity before the state-of-the-art TAB computing system would limit the field to 24 runners with no emergencies.

1895 - AURARIA
Famous American author Mark Twain becomes the first international celebrity to attend Cup Week in 1895. He also becomes the first celebrity to do cross promotion during Cup Week to plug his upcoming Tom Sawyer mini series. Seasoned punters try for the next 150 years to rid Flemington of this celebrity vermin infestation ... but once they start breeding they are near impossible to control.

The Melbourne Cup was filmed for the first time in 1896. Correspondingly, this was also the first year of a broadcast rights blackout, like the situation which exists currently where dedicated racing cable channels cannot show live footage of Cup week races as the exclusive rights are owned by Channel 7. Similarly, in 1896, the crowd on the lawn were forced to wear blindfolds and block their ears during the running of the race as the Member's Grandstand had purchased exclusive visual and audio rights.

Also notable as the first year that someone wears a tuxedo and board shorts to the Cup. "Jolly good jape", "Timeless thigh slapping high jinks by scallywags" comments The Argus newspaper.

The Cup changed forever in 1927 with the birth of a bouncy, eye browed baby boy named James Bartholomew Cummings. Disappointingly he failed to even have a Cup runner, yet alone win a Cup in his first year of life.

1930 - PHARLAP
PHARLAP wins the Melbourne Cup in 1930 and becomes a national icon. Unfortunately this was one of the last times that his hide, skeleton and heart were all in the one location, which dramatically cut short his racing career.

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