As is true for many sports, whenever a big event looms, interest in that sport grows and the Melbourne Cup is a case in point.
Even people who do not know Caulfield from cauliflower or Randwick from rocket tend to devote a little more attention to thoroughbred racing as the first Tuesday in November and The Race That Stops a Nation begins to enter the final stages of the countdown.
One of the interesting aspects of the Melbourne Cup is that the Australian Thoroughbred racing calendar contains only two other high level races equivalent to the 3200 metres of the Cup.
One is the Group 2 Adelaide Cup at Morphettville, SA. When it is next held in 2018, it will be on Monday, March 12. Like the Melbourne Cup, it is run under open handicap conditions. It is also a public holiday for people of the state of SA. Previously, it was run in May, but it was moved to march in 2006. The first race was run in 1864, just three years after the running of the first Melbourne Cup.
The Adelaide Cup is generally not considered indicative of potential for the Melbourne Cup. The last horse to win both races in the same year was Subzero in 1982.
The other 3200 m event on the racing calendar is the Group 1 Sydney Cup held at Randwick in April. Like the Melbourne and Adelaide Cups, it too is run under open handicap conditions. In 2004, Makybe Diva won the Sydney Cup and then went on to win the second of her three Melbourne Cups. The first race was run in 1862, so it has the history.
The big difference between the Sydney Cup and the other two is that the Sydney Cup is run clockwise, with right-handed turns.
Staying races at the higher levels have been on a slow decline as the years go by, which it why the fields are often comprised on local stayers, interstate gallopers that do well under open handicap conditions and more than a few internationals, although neither race offers the level of prize money of the Melbourne Cup.