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The first ‘War Year’ Melbourne Cup - 1915

The Great War did not succeed in killing interest in horseracing in Australia. The 1915 Melbourne Cup was filmed and screened less than 24 hours after the race. 

Since 1896 the Melbourne Cup was filmed annually and screened shortly afterwards. In 1915 the tradition continued with the filming of the same scenes Marius Sestier had originally filmed in 1896. This Australasian Films newsreel reveals how far filmmaking had come in just those nine years. Camera techniques had become more dynamic and creative, and the film industry was a crucial element in the circulation of news.

Year:1915

Location:Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne, Australia

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The first ‘War Year’ Melbourne Cup - 1915

The Great War did not succeed in killing interest in horseracing in Australia. The 1915 Melbourne Cup was filmed and screened less than 24 hours after the race. 

Since 1896 the Melbourne Cup was filmed annually and screened shortly afterwards. In 1915 the tradition continued with the filming of the same scenes Marius Sestier had originally filmed in 1896. This Australasian Films newsreel reveals how far filmmaking had come in just those nine years. Camera techniques had become more dynamic and creative, and the film industry was a crucial element in the circulation of news.


Year: 1915

Length: 05:33

Production Company: Australasian Films

Credits: Cinematographers: Arthur, Ernest and Tasman Higgins aka Higgins Brothers

Source: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Catalogue Reference: 14306 Melbourne Cup. 1915


Location: Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne, Australia

Subject: horse-racing, cinema


The Higgins brothers were acknowledged as the leading cinematographers of their day. They placed ten cameras in strategic locations around the racecourse, filming the start of the race from behind the horses, then from a high vantage point, and carefully panned to follow the action.

Patrobas triumphed on the course and Australasian Films triumphed in the theatres. Their representatives took the camera negative back to Sydney on the train, developed it, edited it, duplicated the 35mm prints and got them into theatres less than 24 hours after the race.

However, the newsreel could not capture the emotions that the Argus reported the day after the race, ‘Everywhere one heard muttered griefs exchanged with mutual greetings […] there was the khaki that streaked the many-hued multitude so plentifully—the khaki of the recruit who still had to prove himself, and the khaki of the returned hero […] some of them lame, some of them with their arms in slings, and, saddest of all, one of them actually blind’. Profits of the day went to war relief funds.

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The first ‘War Year’ Melbourne Cup - 1915

  • 00:00

    Intertitle: Melbourne Cup, 1915. The race from start to finish

  • 00:05

    Train arrives at platform. Crowds disembark

  • 00:27

    Intertitle: Arriving on the Course

  • 00:31

    Crowds descend steps

  • 00:35

    Intertitle: View of the Flat and Grand Stands

  • 00:39

    Crowd around the bookmakers

  • 01:13

    Intertitle: Arrival of the Governor-General and State Governor

  • 01:17

    Cars arrive with VIPs

  • 02:02

    Intertitle: The Start

  • 02:05

    Rear view of the starting line. The race starts

  • 02:16

    Intertitle: The Race

  • 02:18

    Looking down on the race as the horse pass the finishing line for the first time

  • 03:10

    The horses round the first bend, into the back straight, round the final bend, into the home straight and past the finish line

  • 05:10

    Intertitle: The Winner – “Patrobas”

  • 05:14

    Patrobas in the marshalling yard after the race

  • 05:18

    Intertitle: The Cup

  • 05:20

    Close-up of the Melbourne Cup trophy