The 2014 Melbourne Cup Carnival takes place over four days in late October and early November each year. Highly anticipated throughout the entire nation, the Melbourne Cup Carnival and all its trappings are deeply entrenched into Australian culture.
The Melbourne Cup Carnival begins with Victoria Derby Day, which features the $1.5 million AAMI Victoria Derby. The Victoria Derby is open to three-year-old horses only and is run under set-weight conditions. The race is run over a distance of 2,500 metres and is often used as a lead-up race to the Melbourne Cup three days later for any three-year-old who will be competing. Each race on Victoria Derby Day has been allocated Group status. The meeting also includes the Group 1 $1 million Mackinnon Stakes, Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes and Group 1 Myer Classic, as well as the Group 2 Wakeful Stakes, Group 2 Salinger Stakes, Group 3 Carbine Club Stakes, Group 3 The Lexus Stakes and Group 3 Chatham Stakes. The entire Victoria Derby Day is worth almost $5 million.
The second day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival features the prestigious Emirates Melbourne Cup, which always takes place on the first Tuesday of November. The Melbourne Cup is one of the most sought-after titles in the world. Worth an incredible $6 million in prize money, the Melbourne Cup is the second richest race in the entire world behind only the $10 million Dubai World Cup. With $3.6 million awarded to the winner, the Melbourne Cup is the richest two-mile handicap in the world. The Melbourne Cup is a handicap race, with the minimum possible weight allocated to a runner being 49 kilograms and the minimum weight allocated to the top horse being 57 kilograms. While hundreds of Australian and international horses can be nominated for the final Melbourne Cup field, only 24 runners can take part. Melbourne Cup Day is a public holiday in Victoria, ensuring crowds of more than 100,000 people can attend each year.
The following Thursday is known as Crown Oaks Day because it features the $1 million Crown Oaks. The Crown Oaks is open to three-year-old fillies only and is the most prestigious of all the Oaks races around the country. Run over a distance of 2,500 metres, the Group 1 Crown Oaks attracts some of the most promising fillies in Australia each year. Crown Oaks Day is also known as Ladies Day because it features the annual “Fashions on the Field” in which women are judged on their dress to win money and prizes.
The final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival takes place two days later on Emirates Stakes Day. As this day is held on a Saturday, it is attended to by lots of families and is known as Family Day. The Day includes the $1 million Emirates Stakes, as well as the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic, Group 2 Matriarch Stakes, Group 3 Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Group 3 Maribyrnong Plate. This final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival is worth more than $2.7 million in prize money.