Home Hill News

The Melbourne Cup, Home Hill Style

THE Melbourne Cup was first run in 1861, when it was won by Archer and coincidentally, the same horse won again the following year by still the largest margin of eight lengths.

It was always reported that the horse had walked from Terara (near Nowra) to Melbourne, however, that was incorrect, as he actually travelled on a steamship from Sydney to Melbourne as he also did the following year.

The cup was run over two miles, but in 1972, with the introduction of the metric system, it was changed to 3200 metres, which is 19 metres shorter.

It is known as the race that stops a nation and is always run on the first Tuesday in November and is also the richest 3200 metre handicap race in the world, with prize money and trophies in excess of $8 million dollars.

There have only been four horses that have won the cup twice – as earlier noted, Archer in 1861and 1862; Peter Pan in 1932 then again in 1934; Rain Lover in 1968 and 1969 and Think Big in 1974 and 1975. Just one horse has completed the treble – the mighty mare, Makybe Diva completing the incredible feat in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Home Hill joins in

Home Hill began to conduct meetings on this iconic day in 1965.

A local businessman and SP bookmaker, Bill Rawnsley suggested to committee members that the club should race on Melbourne Cup Day, well knowing the danger the club was taking with the race day also being a working day, which was a big concern for the club.

The then Home Hill Race Club was criticised and laughed at by other racing fraternities for taking such a risk. However, they were not laughing for too long, when the huge success of the event was revealed.

A few years later, with the day going from strength-to-strength, other race clubs jumped on board, with one of these being the Townsville Club.

Earlier, it was not an issue as there was plenty of jockeys to conduct both meetings. 

However, by the late nineties, jockey numbers had declined and after a conference between the two clubs, it was decided that the now Burdekin Race Club would race early, allowing for the jockeys to travel to Townsville, so they could conduct their meeting.

It was agreed that the Burdekin Club was to race late the following year – a classical example of why agreements should always be obtained in writing.

The then Townsville CEO went back on the deal – and, of course the Burdekin, being the smaller club, was told to race early again by Racing Queensland.

That would be the last time the Burdekin were allowed to race on Melbourne Cup Day. 

After introducing and conducting the concept for more than 30 years, it was taken off the club and given to Townsville – talk about a kick in the guts!

At around the same time, Home Hill also lost its Melbourne Cup Day holiday – the only public holiday on the day outside Victoria.

Derby Day

For the Cup Day loss, the Burdekin Club was given Derby Day. To say that was an equivalent day would be a gross over-statement, but through patience, hard work and valuable sponsors, the event has become the local race club’s second biggest day of the year.

The introduction of the Ladies event was the icing on the cake, with tickets to the day having to be capped at more than 350 ladies attending in the past.Derby Day – to be held on October 29 this year – will be another great spectacle and again, it will be the Justin Scott Derby Day, sponsored by Truenorth Equipment Hire.