Racehorses from across the world descend upon Melbourne each November in search of a share of the ever-increasing $6.2million Melbourne Cup prize-fund. A total of 12 races from Australia, UK, Ireland, Japan and America act as ‘win and you’re in’ qualifying heats for the race, as well as a horse’s earnings in the two years building up to the contest.
A limited field of 24 are declared for the Melbourne Cup in which each runner is given a rating based on their form by the Australian handicapper. This then allocates a suitable weight for each horse in order to ensure a level playing field for all. The top-weight that a runner can carry in the valuable two-mile handicap is no less than 57kg with the mares receiving a 2kg allowance.
International runners, outside of Australia and New Zealand, are required to undergo a period of 14 days in quarantine before making the trip to Melbourne for their prestigious meeting. This prevents horses from becoming infected with a disease or catching something contagious in preparation for such a big occasion.