It’s a big one Down Under on the first Tuesday in November. The Melbourne Cup is the biggest Australian race of the year – bar none – in fact, and it is the most valuable staying handicap run anywhere in the world and a race well worth setting your alarm clocks for.
A field of 24 runners will go post once again for “the race that stops a nation” at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne which was established in 1861. European raiders have had good strike rate in this recently with British, Irish, German and French trained winners in the last decade.
Melbourne Cup Course Map
Runners in the Melbourne Cup start mid way along a straight section which extends to the east of the course. The field travels past the stands and the winning post for the first time before turning left-handed and completing a full circuit.
Melbourne Cup Past Winners
|2020||Twilight Payment||25/1||Joseph Patrick O'Brien||Jye McNeil|
|2019||Vow And Declare||10/1||Danny O'Brien||Craig Williams|
|2018||Cross Counter||8/1||Charlie Appleby||Kerrin McEvoy|
|2017||Rekindling||14/1||Joseph O’Brien||Corey Brown|
|2016||Almandin||10/1||Robert Hickmott||Kerrin McEvoy|
|2015||Prince Of Penzance||100/1||Darren Weir||Michelle Payne|
|2014||Protectionist||7/1||Andreas Wohlerr||Ryan Moore|
|2013||Fiorente||6/1||Gai Waterhouse||Damien Oliver|
|2012||Green Moon||19/1||Robert Hickmott||Brett Prebble|
|2011||Dunaden||15/2||Mikel Delzangles||Christophe Lemaire|
|2010||Americain||12/1||Alain de Royer-Dupre||Gerald Mosse|
|2009||Shocking||9/1||Mark Kavanagh||Corey Brown|
|2008||Viewed||40/1||Bart Cummings||Blake Shinn|
|2007||Efficient||16/1||Graeme Rogerson||Michael Rodd|
|2006||Delta Blues||17/1||Katsuhiko Sumii||Yasunari Iwata|
|2005||Makybe Diva||7/2||Lee Freedman||Glen Boss|
|2004||Makybe Diva||5/2||Lee Freedman||Glen Boss|
|2003||Makybe Diva||7/1||David Hall||Glen Boss|
|2002||Media Puzzle||11/9||Dermot K. Weld||Damien Oliver|
|2001||Ethereal||9/1||Sheila Laxton||Scott Seamer|
About the Melbourne Cup
With so much high quality action taking place across Britain and Ireland you would be forgiven for not paying too much attention to racing Down Under. Australia does boast some quality races though and if there’s only one you’ll take note of then it simply has to be the Melbourne Cup.
Standing as the most valuable two mile handicap anywhere in the world, there is never a shortage of supremely talented names attending the flat contest at Flemington Racecourse. There is no shortage of anticipation for it either with the long-standing contest sometimes referred to as “the race that stops the nation”.
Part of what makes the 3200m race so worthy of being a nation-stopper is its gloriously rich history which dates back to 1861. After just four renewals the race became so popular that the Cup day became a half-holiday in Melbourne for bank officials and public servants while many business closed at lunchtime. During the same year, 1865, the race also swapped its prize of a gold watch for a trophy. Handed to the winning owner, the golden trophy worth $250,000 is theirs to keep while the trainer and jockey receive miniature replicas.
WIDE DRAW LOOKING LIKE A HINDRANCE
For a race that regularly features its maximum of 24 runners, horses can’t afford much to go against them. Looking at past data it seems that being drawn on the outside is something that makes winning this race significantly tougher. With its large sweeping left handed bends, being within the vicinity of the rail seems the place to be when at Flemington Racecourse for this two mile test. We have had four winners since 2007 start from barrier 17 or higher, which is a decent return, but their top four finish figures show how they often underperform.
BARRIER DRAW RESULTS – MELBOURNE CUP 2007-2019
|1 to 4||49||2||9|
|5 to 8||51||2||8|
|9 to 12||50||4||10|
|13 to 16||51||1||15|
|17 to 20||51||2||5|
|21 to 24||49||2||6|
WOMEN MAKING HISTORY
Clare Lindop became the first female jockey to feature in this race when riding a horse called Debben in 2003. She wasn’t able to impress with a 19th placed finish but her effort opened the door for future women riders. Twelve years after Lindop’s appearance, Michelle Payne stunned the crowd at Flemington when riding 100/1 shot Prince of Penzance to glory. Not only was this the longest odds winner since 1940 but Payne became the first ever winning female jockey in the Melbourne Cup.
We’ve also see two female trainers make history this side of the new century. Shelia Laxon became the first woman trainer to officially win the contest in 2001. The word officially is used because in 1938, Mrs A McDonald was forced to register her horse in her husband’s name as women were not allowed to be trainers at that time. A little over a decade after Laxon’s triumph, Gai Waterhouse, daughter of the legendary Tommy J. Smith, became the first Australian female to saddle the winner.
A FOREIGN INVASION
Often talked about these days is the involvement of foreign trained horses in the Melbourne Cup. Foreign bred runners have long taken part in the contest but it’s only over the past few decades that trainers have made the long trip to Melbourne. Success has been very limited with locally based runners still firmly the dominant force but there have been exceptions.
In 1993, Dermot Welt become the first trainer from the Northern hemisphere to secure Cup glory before doing so again in 2002. Japan got their first taste of success in 2006 thanks to Katsumi Yoshida and 12 years later the Melbourne Cup trophy finally made its way to Britain as Cross Counter struck gold for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin.
NORTHERN HEMISPHERE TRAINED MELBOURNE CUP WINNERS
|2018||Cross Counter (GBR)||Charlie Appleby||Kerrin McEvoy||Godlophin|
|2017||Rekindling (IRE)||Joseph Patrick O’Brien||Corey Brown||Lloyd Williams|
|2014||Protectionist (GER)||Andreas Wohler||Ryan Moore||Australian Bloostock|
|2011||Dunaden (FRE)||Mikel Delzangles||Christophe Lemaire||Pearl Bloodstock|
|2010||Americain (USA)||Alain de Royer-Dupre||Gerald Mosse||G Ryan & K Bamford|
|2006||Delta Blues (JPN)||Katsuhiko Sumii||Yasunari Iwata||Sunday Racing Co|
|2002||Media Puzzle (IRE)||Dermot Weld||Damien Oliver||Dr Michael Smurfit|
|1993||Vintage Crop (IRE)||Dermot Weld||Michael Kinane||Dr Michael Smurfit|
MAKYBE DIVA WITH HISTORIC HAT-TRICK
A hugely lucrative career saw Makybe Diva collect not far off A$15m in prize money, the bulk of which came from the Melbourne Cup. The British bred daughter of Danehill holds a special place in the history of this race having won it an unmatched three times. Her first triumph came when a reasonably fancied 7/1 shot but the following two renewals she set off as the favourite.
During her final Cup appearance she carried 58kg, 0.5kg more than above the weight-for-age scale for a mare in a 3200m race. By winning in spite of this, the Cox Plate champion became the first horse carrying more than weight-for-age since Rain Lover’s second victory in 1969.