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28 October 2003

A hot tip for those who want to know more about the Melbourne Cup is a seminar this week at the National Museum of Australia at which leading historians and curators will focus on the Cup's social and cultural history.

And they're off! Why Australia stops for the Melbourne Cup is a free public seminar in the Museum's Studio on Friday, 31 October, from 2 to 5pm, organised by the Museum with Manning Clark House and the Independent Scholars Association of Australia.

'The odds are very good that this event, which will include sweeps and lots of good humour, will set the pace for the running of the Cup next Tuesday,' says the Museum's director of public programs, Louise Douglas.

It takes place under the stewardship of Melbourne-based sportswriter, ABC broadcaster and author John Harms.

Speakers are:

  • Professor Richard Waterhouse, University of Sydney historian and a member of the well known racing family, who will talk about Chance, Australian Culture, and the Melbourne Cup. Professor Waterhouse's books include The Principal Club: A History of the Australian Jockey Club.
  • Eddie Butler-Bowdon, City of Melbourne curator and former curator at the Melbourne Museum where his duties included a lengthy stint as Phar Lap's curatorial strapper will talk about Phar Lap and the Melbourne Cup: An Uneasy Relationship.
  • Dr Jeff Brownrigg, Professor of Cultural History at the University of Canberra, will talk about Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen: Reflections About Owning A Racehorse.
  • Marilyn Dooley from ScreenSound Australia will present footage of past Melbourne Cups, as well as some classic radio broadcasts.

Bookings for the seminar are essential, on 6295 9433.

For more information, please contact the Museum's Public Affairs Director, Martin Portus, on 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or email

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