The Melbourne Cup has been held at Flemington Racecourse each and every year since 1861. It is the oldest continuing metropolitan racecourse and has held racing events since it opened in 1840. Located just a few kilometres from the Melbourne CBD it has a crowd capacity of 120,000. A record attendance of 129,089 was set on VRC Derby Day in 2006.
With the stature of the Melbourne Cup increasing with every year it came as no surprise in 2006 when the site was placed on the National Heritage List. The Flemington Racecourse map reveals the sheer size of the track. The six furlong straight known as the ‘Straight Six’ is one of the most unique aspects of the track.
It allows races up to 1200m such as the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap to be run on a single straight right along the grandstand side of the course. It also means that barriers are of less significance in races up to this distance. Drawing an inside barrier is much more important over 1400m as there is very little time to get into position prior to a long winding bend.
Races over a mile and 2000m begin on the back straight and allow jockeys more than enough time and space to slot themselves from a wide draw. Group 1 races held over these distances include the Myer Classic and Mackinnon Stakes. The Victoria Derby held over 2500m has the most unique starting position. The barriers are set just before the winning post and horses are faced with a difficult bend almost immediately.
For the Melbourne Cup barrier draw statistically you want to be in barriers 5, 10, 11 or 14 – they have each produces 8 winners since barriers were introduces back in 1924 while Barrier 18 is yet to produce a winner!