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Australia, the magazine : Australia, the magazine
Every year, on the rst Tuesday of November, Australia will down tools. Many will don a fancy hat, sip champagne and hold a li le slip of paper bearing the name of one of the nest race horses in the world. en, shortly before 3pm, the excitement palpable, they will gather around the radio or television to cheer on their pick in the big race. ey won't be the only ones caught up in the event which, with prize money of AU$6 million, is the richest handicap race in the world. e Hong Kong Jockey Club will simulcast the race for its legion of eager punters. An estimated 700 million people in 120 countries watch the Melbourne Cup on TV or the internet, and the number is growing every year. At the race itself, 20,000 international visitors will likely be cheering on horses from Ireland, Britain, the US, New Zealand and Japan against the locally bred competition. Many of the international horses are owned and raced by some of the wealthiest people in the world, from Middle Eastern rulers to British billionaires. e Melbourne Cup has long been an icon on the Australian sporting calendar, but as it celebrates its 150th year in 2010 the race is growing in stature as an international event, with participation and interest from all over the world. e cup itself is o on a world tour to mark its anniversary, visiting Dublin, London, Baden Baden, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Dubai and Auckland. In July it will be shown o in Singapore and Shanghai. e 150th Melbourne Cup has become the world's cup. Surprising, then, that it wasn't until 1993 that the rst overseas horses ran in the cup. It had been a struggle to convince the overseas owners to risk ying their horses the long distance to Melbourne and face the four week long quarantine restrictions. It was seen as just too much to expect them to perform well. But the Irish owners of gangly stayer Vintage Crop decided to risk the 17,400-kilometre trip. e Irish horse injected new life into the race, with Australian punters cheering on their own Australian horses against the foreign interloper. When Vintage Crop raced away to win the 1993 cup by three lengths it changed the race forever. A new era had dawned and foreign horses became a regular xture in the Melbourne Cup. Owners from as far a eld as the Persian Gulf, Malaysia and Japan sent their horses to win the cup. In 2006, Japanese horses Delta Blues and Pop Rock came rst and second. e winning jockey, Yasunari racing & bloodstock 56 From left to right: Newspix; Getty Images ❝ When Vintage Crop raced away to win the 1993 cup a new era had dawned. Foreign horses became a fixture. ❞ First tuesday in november Above and left: Fashions and action, cup day. Right: Hong Kong owner Dr Gene Tsoi. Opener: 2007 Melbourne Cup winner, Efficient, ridden by Michael Rodd.