Tuesday, November 3rd, the State of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, will shut down for a "Cup" holiday so everyone can party and follow the running of the Melbourne Cup.
According to the Cup website, "The Melbourne Cup is Australia's most prestigious Thoroughbred horse race. Marketed as "the race that stops a nation", it is a 3,200 metre race for three-year-olds and over. It is the richest "two-mile" handicap in the world, and one of the richest turf races. Conducted annually by the Victoria Racing Club on the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria, the event starts at 3pm (daylight saving time) on the first Tuesday in November."
Think Super Bowl, the 7th game of the World Series and the Kentucky Derby all rolled into an event that will bring the state and most of the nation to a halt. In recent years over 100,000 spectators have crowded the race course to witness the event. This year the total purse will exceed $6,000,000.
It is more than a race. It's a fashion and social event. There may be as much attention directed to the fans as the horses. And, while the focus is on the "big event," there are a number of races over the ten days of the event. For example, Saturday was Victoria Derby Day.. Rather than bright colors in the crowd it was "black and white day" at the races.
"Only" 85,000 attended Satuday's race. We saw a lot of black and white and big hats on the streets of Melbourne Saturday after the races. It is a really big deal in the State of Victoria.
Sunday morning we noticed TV crews outside the nearby Catholic Church. We inquired and learned there was a special Mass for the Victoria Racing Club.
It is and interesting and exciting time to be in Melbourne.