National Heritage Places - Flemington Racecourse

Victoria

Overview

Flemington is one of the world's premier racecourses. In the 160 years that the flats beside the Maribynong River have been used for racing, Flemington has transformed into one of the most famous and challenging courses on the international racing circuit. Legendary horses including Phar Lap have run at Flemington and each year the racecourse continues to host the fashion and famous racing identities that come to the race that stops a nation, the Melbourne Cup.

Flemington was included in the National Heritage List on 7 November 2006.

Gallery

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Clerks of the Course  Mark Munro  Mark Munro  Mark Munro  Mark Munro

More information

In the hearts and minds of Australians, Flemington Racecourse is synonymous with the Melbourne Cup. Since it began in 1861, the Melbourne Cup has been the "race that stops the nation".

A challenging course

Set on 125 hectares of river flats, Flemington is one of the longest racetracks in Australia. The racecourse has transformed from a long path through roughly scythed grass, into a richly grassed acreage supporting one of the finest racing surfaces in the world.

The track is famous for the "Straight Six" - the six-furlong (1200 metre) length of straight track that it one of the most challenging tracks in the world. This long run down the Straight Six, a favourite with both Australian and international jockeys, gives horses a chance to come from behind in the field to make it first past the post.

The Melbourne Cup

Run on the first Tuesday in November, the Melbourne Cup is one of the world's most challenging horse races, taking more than three minutes. Kingston Rule holds the record for the fastest run, winning in 1990 in 3 minutes 16.3 seconds.

The Melbourne Cup is recognised as Australia's premier horse race. Along with the English Derby, its American counterpart the Kentucky Derby and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, it is one of the world's great horse races.

The first Melbourne Cup recorded on film was among the earliest cinematographic film footage shot in Australia. Shot by Marius Sestier, the film was taken at Flemington on Cup Day in 1896, when 95,000 people saw Newhaven win the Cup.

Today the fun and glamour at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day has entrenched the first Tuesday in November as an important part of Australia's heritage, culture and identity.

Racing greats

Flemington Racecourse has long been associated with the names of horses, jockeys, trainers, breeders and owners who have been at the forefront of Australia's racing culture. Many of Australia's greatest racing champions have won the Cup, including Carbine in 1890, and the legendary Phar Lap in 1930.

Fashionable occasions

The Melbourne Cup Carnival is a major occasion for Australian fashion. The tradition of Oaks Day as Ladies' Day dates from 1885, when a group of fashionably dressed ladies complained of the damage to their elegant gowns by the crush of people on Cup Day.

Within two years of its inception as Ladies' Day, Oaks Day had become an important fashion event on the Melbourne calendar and by 2005 visitors to Flemington for the Melbourne Cup Carnival spent more than $20.1 million on fashion purchases in Victoria alone.

The Miniskirt Affair

In 1965 the eyes of the world were turned towards Flemington's special guest, British model Jean Shrimpton, who caused a scandal on Derby Day by wearing a sleeveless white miniskirt with a hemline four inches above the knee.

She also failed to don the expected Flemington fashion accessories - hat, gloves and stockings. The outfit shocked the conservative Melbourne establishment and was reported in the media around the world.

What became known as the "Miniskirt Affair" inspired young women around the country to take up the new fashion.

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