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Horse Racing: Australia

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Australia

Area:
7,686,850 km2
Population:
21,585,178 (2009)

Horse Racing in Australia is administered by the Australian Racing Board, with each state's Principal Racing Authority agreeing to abide by, and to enforce, the Australian Rules of Racing.

Thoroughbred horse racing is the third most attended spectator sport in Australia, behind Australian rules football and rugby league, with almost 2 million admissions to the 379 racecourses throughout Australia in 2002-2003. Besides being a spectator sport, horse racing is also an industry, which provides full- or part-time employment for almost 250,000 people, the equivalent of 77,000 jobs. About 300,000 people have a direct interest as owners, or members of syndicates in the 31,000 horses in training in Australia.

Public interest in thoroughbred racing, especially during the main Spring and Autumn racing carnivals, has been growing in recent years with over 100,000 attracted to the running of the Melbourne Cup, the Victoria Derby and the VRC Oaks race meets. The Caulfield Cup and W S Cox Plate are also major attractions.

Throughout its history, horse racing has become part of the Australian culture and has developed a rich and colourful language, as well as providing some of Australia's great sporting icons such as Phar Lap, Tulloch, Bernborough, Kingston Town, Northerly and Makybe Diva.

Feature Race: Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is Australia's major annual thoroughbred horse race. Billed as The race that stops a nation, it is a race for three-year-olds and over, over a distance of 3,200 metres. It is the richest and most prestigious "two-mile" handicap in the world, and the second richest turf race in the world, after the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp. The event is held at 3 pm on the first Tuesday in November by the Victoria Racing Club, on the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. This day is a public holiday for all working within metropolitan Melbourne, but not for country Victoria. For Federal Public Servants it is also observed as a holiday in the entire state of Victoria, and since 2007 also in the Australian Capital Territory. No other horse race in the world has a public holiday dedicated to it.

The race was originally held over two miles (about 3,218 metres) but following preparation for Australia's adoption of the metric system in the 1970s, the current race distance of 3,200 metres was established in 1972. This reduced the distance by 61ft 6in, and Rain Lover's 1968 race record of 3min.19.1sec was accordingly adjusted to 3min.17.9sec. The present record holder is the 1990 winner Kingston Rule with a time of 3min 16.3sec.

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