Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Quiz for the Cup

The first Tuesday of November is once again almost upon us, when the entire nation will stop to watch the spectacle of the Melbourne Cup, as we have been doing for 151 years.

Race goers on the cover of The Australasian November 6 1937
Since 1861 Australia’s richest horse race has attracted huge crowds to the Flemington Racecourse but nowadays, instead of going out to Flemington, many of us celebrate the Cup Day public holiday in other ways, often with picnics and barbeques.

Most work places hold a Cup Day sweep and fund-raisers and often use the day for a favourite charity with mock horse races, fancy dress and mad hat competitions or a trivia quiz.

The Folio Section of the RHSV contains just the book for anyone who wants to organise a Cup Trivia Competition: The Melbourne Cup (circa 1923) by H. Mitchell. With its photos of jockeys, owners, trainers, great horses and race finishes as well as detailed descriptions of the previous Melbourne Cups. 
Poster of the 1937 Winner from The Australasian November 6 1937

The book contains many photographs of the Flemington, Williamstown and Caulfield race courses, and of historic grand stands. It covers many aspects of racing history: lists of Derby winners, horse pedigrees and prize money. Cup winners are listed from “Archer” in 1861 to Bitalli in 1923.

There is also a photo of the finishing post for 1923: the rose bushes are there, lots of men in hats, and women wearing sensible clothing for a damp spring day. Not a fascinator in sight! Accompanying the photo on page 128 is a great description of the race:

“a swelling roar from many thousands of voices, the thud of a hundred twinkling hoofs on the fresh green turf, a swiftly moving blur of rainbow colour speeding towards the one goal, a brown horse with a blue and white midget perched over his neck galloping grimly to shake off the rest of the pack, exultant cries of “Bitalli!” “Bitalli!” – and another name has been added to the glorious scroll of Melbourne Cup winners”.
The Melbourne Cup! Now who won in 1974?

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