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There’s no doubt sports are a big deal in Australia. But in the state of Victoria—the home of the Melbourne Cup—one sport in particular is almost a religion: horse racing. Run every year since 1861, the Melbourne Cup boasts the world’s richest handicap, with prize money of more than 5 million Australian dollars, or $4.1 million at current exchange, and is the largest race in the Southern Hemisphere. The Cup is the jewel in the crown of a four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival at the city’s Flemington Racecourse, set against the glorious backdrop of 12,000 roses, all timed to bloom that week. And the carnival is itself the highlight of an entire six-week-long Spring Racing Carnival running from Oct. 3 to Nov. 21 this year: 50 days of racing at 60 racecourses across Victoria, as well as countless festivities. Last year’s event attracted a record crowd of 770,000 people.
“It’s so brilliant—this is my first real big race,” Kate Bosworth said after helping judge a Derby Day fashion heat last year, three days before the Cup. “I love that everyone has such a unique style. Even judging Fashions on the Field, it was so difficult for me. Everyone looked so good.”
Other VIPs who have touched down at Flemington include everyone from Queen Elizabeth II and Sixties supermodel Jean Shrimpton—who caused a minor scandal in 1965 when she turned up on Derby Day wearing a white minidress and no stockings—to Paris Hilton, Eva Longoria, Chloë Sevigny and Lauren Bush. Emirates Melbourne Day Cup