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Five ways the Melbourne Cup impacts property

Jennifer Duke
Melbourne Cup day marks the collision between two of Australia’s favourite pastimes – gambling and property.

From being the most-awaited Reserve Bank interest rate decision day to affecting how streets are named, the first Tuesday of November is on every Australian’s calendar.

Here are five ways the Melbourne Cup and racehorse heritage affects real estate.

The Reserve Bank is inclined to move onrates

The Reserve Bank traditionally cuts rates on Melbourne Cup day.The Reserve Bank traditionally cuts rates on Melbourne Cup day. Photo: Nicholas Rider

While eyes may be on the horse racing, those attuned to the property market will be more keen on looking out for the 2.30pm Reserve Bank of Australia interest rate announcement.

Historically, it’s one of the most likely days that the RBA will change rates – having moved on 10 Melbourne Cup days since 1991. This could be due to the timing of the race – the November meeting is the second last of the year and close enough to Christmas that a cut could ignite retail spending.

This year’s meeting is sure to be watched closely, with poor consumer price index figures and a slowing property market both making the case stronger for trimming rates by 25 basis points to 1.75 per cent.

Streets are obsessively named after racehorses

Phar Lap is possibly the horse boasting the most tribute street names.Phar Lap is possibly the horse boasting the most tribute street names.Photo: Fairfax Archives

If you wander around most states and territories, it wouldn’t be long before you realised that some cities just can’t help but squeeze in the name of a Melbourne Cup winner into a suburb.

From Phar Lap Close, Casula in NSW, to Wattle Grove in Western Australia, the Street Directory has records of 29 streets with Phar Lap-inspired names, some condensing the name into one word. They are all in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

That’s not to mention Australia’s other Melbourne Cup winning racehorses, which also make up a fair number of street names.

If you thought Makybe Diva would be an odd street name, think again – there are two streets named after the three-time Cup winner.

Two-time winner Rain Lover, 1990 champion Kingston Rule and 1880 first-place Grand Flaneur have also had streets named after them. There’s even a Black Caviar Parade in Port Macquarie.

Auction listings plummet on Cup weekend

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Source:Domain Group

Not only does it stop the nation – it stops the auction market too. At least for one weekend.

Traditionally, auction listings in Melbourne plummet on Melbourne Cup weekend. Saturday was unusual, hosting around 500 auctions, compared to a usual 100 on Melbourne Cup weekend, yet it was still half the typical numbers of the auction season this time of year.

This may be due to sellers being uncertain about auctioning on a long weekend, keen to not let the distractions of the Cup Day race get between buyers and their biggest asset. However, some used the weekend strategically – concerned about the competition of large number of properties heading to the market on other weekends of spring.

Winning racehorses add to the case for heritage listing

Stabling a Melbourne Cup winner adds to the social significance of a site. Stabling a Melbourne Cup winner adds to the social significance of a site.Photo: Getty Images

If a racehorse wins the Melbourne Cup or another significant horse race, it adds to the likelihood that a home may secure itself heritage listing. While the property tends to have historical significance beyond once being the home to the horse, this added detail is usually mentioned in heritage documents as adding to the case for the site’s social significance.

One of these listed homes is the Whittington-located St Albans Homestead, a single-storey 30-roomed mansion was built in 1873 for horse breeder and trainer James Wilson. The home itself is noted as being distinctive work of architect JT Conlan, but the home is also of added significance due to being “one of the leading horse racing studs in Australia in the late 19th century”, according to the National Trust database. It specifically notes that many Melbourne Cup runners were trained at the track, with Phar Lap in 1930 having “stayed briefly … on the eve of his celebrated Melbourne Cup victory”.

Joining St Albans on the list is Wollomai House, built in 1876 for horse owner John Cleeland and named after his 1875 Cup winner Wollomai. The home is described as a “rare survivor of the substantial homestead complexes built for Gippsland pastoralists during the last century”.

Property developers love a connection with the races

Saintly achieved Bart Cummings his 10th Melbourne Cup win.Saintly achieved Bart Cummings his 10th Melbourne Cup win.

Racehorses’ stables are often heritage listed, but when a developer does get their hands on a site with a thoroughbred background, they often use this history as part of their selling pitch to prospective home owners.

Bart Cummings’ Saintly Place was closed for demolition in 2013. On the location, he trained big-name racehorses Viewed, Rogan Josh, Saintly, So You Think and Let’s Elope.

The site has now been redeveloped into 61 apartments by Branson Group at 22 Leonard Crescent, Ascot Value and retained the name Saintly Place after the 1996 racehorse winner. It has an estimated completion date of December 2015 and has been advertised as “once the home to some of Australia’s finest thoroughbred racing horses” next to Flemington racecourse.

They’re not the only developer making a point of their horse racing connection.

Newly created NSW suburb Bungarribee, in the City of Blacktown, has a strong horse racing history with many famed racehorses from the 1820s and 1830s. The estate was initially established in 1822 for breeding horses and the Bungarribee Homestead is listed on the NSW Heritage Register.

It will include Bunya Estate, which will see 800 homes on completion, and more than a dozen streets named after notable horses, including arterial road Steeltrap Drive. The entry includes a sculpture of horses to mark the horse breeding history of the site.