Adelaide Cup Day in South Australia Date in the current year: March 11, 2024

Adelaide Cup Day in South Australia The second Monday of March is a public holiday in several Australian territories and states. It is known as Labour Day in Victoria, Eight Hours Day in Tasmania, Canberra Day in the Australian Capital Territory, and as Adelaide Cup Day or March Public Holiday in South Australia.

The Adelaide Cup is an annual thoroughbred handicap horse race for three-year-olds and older that has been run by the South Australian Jockey Club (SAJC) for over 150 years. The race is 3,200 meters long, and the total prize money is 400,000 Australian dollars.

The inaugural Adelaide Cup took place on April 21, 1864 at Thebarton Racecourse in what is now the Adelaide suburb of Mile End. The even attracted a crowd of at least 7,000. The race was run annually until 1869, then went on a two-year break and resumed in 1872 at Victoria Park Racecourse. In 1876, the race was moved to Morphettville Racecourse.

Following the abolition of the totalizator in South Australia by the Totalizator Repeal Act of 1883, the SAJC began to struggle financially. It had to mortgage Morphettville Racecourse and move the 1885 Adelaida Cup to Flemington Racecourse in Victoria. After that, the race didn’t take place for three years.

In 1889, local politicians and entrepreneurs took over Morphettville Racecourse and revived the Adelaide Cup. Since then, the event has been held every year, except for 1942 and 1943 (due to a ban on horse racing during World War II). In 1980 and 2000, the race was run at Victoria Park Racecourse instead of Morphettville Racecourse due to renovations and bad weather, respectively.

Until 2006, the Adelaide Cup was a Group 1 race with minimum prize money of 350,000 Australian dollars. In 2007, the Australian Pattern Committee downgraded it to Group 2 status, with minimum prize money of 175,000 Australian dollars. However, as we’ve already mentioned above, the total prize money of the Australian Cup is actually 400,000 Australian dollars.

In 1973, the Adelaide Cup Day was declared a public holiday in South Australia. Since then, it has become a major social event in the state. In 2006, its date was moved from May to the second Monday of March for the better weather (since May is the last month of autumn in Australia, it had often rained during the event before it was moved to March).

Unfortunately, the move made attendance drop significantly; the Cup saw its highest attendance of 50,000 people in 1951, but the 2015 event had only 10,500 attendees. This drop was caused by Adelaide’s “Mad March” season which includes numerous competing events held on or around March Public Holiday, such as Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Fringe, and WOMADelaide.

The SAJC and Racing SA have repeatedly campaigned to move the Adelaide Cup and its associated public holiday to a Sunday or a weekday during another week in March or May. However, the State Government of South Australia refused to shift the public holiday, with Racing Minister Leon Bignell saying, “We can't be at the whim of a racing club that wants to dictate when the public holiday is going to be.”

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Adelaide Cup Day in South Australia, holidays in Australia, holidays in South Australia, public holidays, horse race