1. Melbourne Cup is an annual horse-racing event held in Melbourne on the first Tuesday every November. The first Melbourne Cup was held in 1861.
2. It's widely known as the race that stops a nation. It's also gazetted as a public holiday in Victoria state.
3. About 100,000 people attend the cup day every year. 100,000 dressed-up people.
4. Fashion is a main focus for the attendants at the Melbourne Cup race. Apart from their best dresses, women often wear elegant hats or fascinators (pictured above) as an accessory. It's quite a sight to behold. However, many of these people get drunk and the ground is full of rubbish after the event. It's an eyesore not to behold.
5. 80 percent of all adult Australians population are said to place a bet in any given year's race. The total bet often goes up to 100 million dollars throughout Australia. Australia's population is 20 million, so it comes up to everyone in the country placing an average of 5-dollar bet in the race.
6. The winner this year, Shocking, came first at a 11-1 odd. It means that if you bet $10 for a win, you would have earned $110 at the end of the day. One punter took home $440,000 on a $40,000 stake. If you bet one of the other 22 horses in the race you lose all your money. Apart from winner you can also bet for places (top three), quinella, trifecta, first four, big 6 and so on.
7. Melbourne Cup is one of the races where a handicap is placed on the horses based on their previous performances. The handicap is in the form of weight they are stipulated to carry during the race. For example, if a horse has recently won a race, it might be "penalised" and be required to carry an extra one kilogram. This is meant to "equalise" the winning chances of all participating horses.
8. As a result of the above, jockeys need to be extremely light. Since the stipulated handicap weight is usually around 55 to 60 kilograms, and this includes the jockey's weight, the jockeys have to weigh in at somewhere in the low 50 kilograms. As part of the job jockeys would do almost anything to keep their weight down. Some turn anorexic, restricting their diet vigorously and purging routinely to lose weight. In fact some racecourses have specific "heaving bowls" in its toilets for the purpose of purging. Amongst other drastic methods to lose weight include the use of illegal drugs, diuretics, wrapping themselves in a hot bag and sweat off the weight. All these are detrimental to health and can cause death in severe cases, and they can make jockeys look older than they are. It's an ugly scene not widely known behind the glamour of the whole industry.
9. In exchange the jockeys can earn a considerable amount of money if they are successful. A top jockey can earn more than one million dollars a year.
10. I went to the 2009 Melbourne Cup and burned my ears and nose.
More photos will come later. This photo is courtesy of Wee Loon.