The Story of the Melbourne Cup – Australia’s Greatest Race
With its well-deserved reputation as ‘the
race that stops a nation,’ The Melbourne Cup has played an integral role
in Australia’s sporting and cultural life and harbours a unique place
within the nation’s psyche. For just over three minutes on the first
Tuesday of each November, the country, and much of the rest of the
world, truly does hold its breath. Fortunes are made and lost, as are
reputations, and with prize money totalling some $6 million the race is
one of the most lucrative of its kind anywhere in the world.
2010 marks the 150th anniversary
of the Cup, and to celebrate the milestone the Victoria Racing Club has
commissioned this excellent documentary, which was written and produced
by Channel Seven reporter Neil Kearney.
Boasting a compelling narrative and an
arresting array of archive footage, the works charts the Cup’s origins,
the roles of the early pioneers who helped shape its appeal, as well as
the trainers, jockeys and owners that made the sport great. Once such
proponent was Robert Bagot, the first secretary of the Victorian Racing
Club, who cannily provided members with two ladies tickets in the early
years of the race, concluding that ‘where ladies went, men would
follow.’ He was right, and spectators have thronged the stands at
Flemington ever since.
But of course the race would be nothing
without the 24 thoroughbreds that comprise its annual field, and
legendary horses such as Archer, Carbine, three-time winner Makybe Dive
and the incomparable Phar Lap are each given their due. It’s a
thrilling and expertly elucidated story, buoyed by interviews with
numerous luminaries of the sport including Bart Cummings, Lee Friedman
and Damien Oliver, and the end result comprises both a fascinating
historical journey and an important piece of richly crafted Australia.
Audio & Video
The 87-minute documentary is presented in a
1.78:1 aspect ratio, with 16:9 anamorphic enhancement that fills the
screen nicely. Picture quality necessarily varies due to the age of
some of the source material, but otherwise picture quality is
faultless. A DD 2.0 audio track is on offer, and proves more than
The principal bonus feature, and an
excellent one for lovers of the sport, is each of the past 13 Melbourne
Cups, from 1997 to 2009, shown in their entirety. It’s a perfect
companion to the documentary itself, and watching horses like Might and
Power, Makybe Diva and 2009 winner Shocking storming home to victory
more than whets ones appetite for the 150th race in 2010.
Also included is a four-minute compendium
of footage on the legendary Phar Lap, some of it extremely rare. The
featurette shows the iconic gelding reaching a clear victory in the 1930
Melbourne Cup, and features both archive material and contemporary shots
of the horse’s mounted display at the Melbourne Museum, where it
continues to attract many thousands of visitors each year.