If you ask any American horse racing fan, they will probably tell you that the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs is the world’s most famous, historic and important race. But if you ask an Australian, they would probably argue that the Melbourne Cup deserves that title.
When it comes to history, the Melbourne Cup does beat out the Kentucky Derby, as Australia’s biggest race was first run 1861, while the famous race at Churchill Downs in Louisville didn’t start until 1875.
The on-track crowds are also similar for both races, as it’s not uncommon for 100,000 or more racing fans to gather on race day. The talk of the town around Australia, and indeed around the world, leading up to the big race is about how to check the Melbourne Cup betting odds. It could be argued that the Melbourne Cup is the better race for wagering among the two, as the Melbourne Cup can have up to 24 runners, while the Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 horses. Each race is also a major fashion event, as the Kentucky Derby is famous for its hats as is the Melbourne Cup.
As for the races themselves, there are some pretty big differences, as the Kentucky Derby is only for 3-year-olds and is run at 1 ¼ miles on the dirt. The Melbourne Cup, on the other hand, is for 3-year-olds and older on the turf at a distance of 2 miles.
Obviously no horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby twice, as that would be impossible, but in the history of the Melbourne Cup there have been five multiple winners, and only one three-time winner, Makybe Diva. As you might expect, Makybe Diva, who won the Melbourne Cup in 2003, 2004 and 2005, is the richest horse in Australian racing history with a bankroll of more than $14 million. To this day, she also remains one of the most popular runners in history.
The 2021 Melbourne Cup is set to be run on November 2 at Flemington Racecourse, and that date is pretty much a national holiday in Australia. While American’s tend to take a few minutes out of their day to watch the Kentucky Derby, the Melbourne Cup is at another level in Australia, especially in Melbourne. The day is actually a public holiday in the city and many businesses are closed so that everyone can either go to the track or watch the big race on TV.