Situated in Melbourne next to the Maribyrnong River, Flemington Racecourse was first opened in 1840. During the racing season it hosts a mouth-watering 14 Grade One races and alongside the Melbourne Cup, these include the Victoria Derby, Emirates Stakes and the Australia Cup. The high-class racing is complimented by state-of-the-art facilities with trackside and grandstand capacities capable of entertaining a capacity crowd of 120,000 punters. The races take place on the pear-shaped track that is approximately 2,3km (1,4m) in length that is raced anti-clockwise.
Other featured races on Melbourne Cup Day include the Group Three Darley Maribyrnong Plate for two-year-olds over 1,000 metres. There is also the Group Three Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes, a race that covers 1,400 metres.
The main feature event of the day, as already mentioned, is the Melbourne Cup. First ran in 1861 the popularity of the event continues to grow internationally. One of the most famous races in Australia it is also known as ‘the race that stops the nation’. The reason being is the length of the race, one that is for the stayers, testing the horse’s stamina and strength. Horses of three-years-old and above will run the 3,200 metre (1mile 1740 yds) course that is just shy of two miles in length. Whilst the Everest is the richest race in Australia, the Melbourne Cup is the richest two-mile race and in 2021 the total prize purse was in the region of AUS $8 million.
A Short History of the Melbourne Cup
It was 7th November 1861 when 17 horses and their jockeys competed the first ever Melbourne Cup to try and win a gold watch and 710 gold sovereigns. The trainer of the horse, Etienne de Mestre selected jockey John Cutts to mount Archer, who ran home to victory in the inaugural event. The following year Archer won the race again making history by being the first horse to win the race twice, a feat that would not be repeated for another seventy years.
The popularity of the Melbourne Cup continued to grow and so did the interest in fielding the best horses. As such, demand from the owners to run their horses meant by 1890, the largest field of horses ran the race. Thirty-nine horses started the race and another impressive record was set. The winning horse that day was Carbine who set a weight carrying record of 10st 5lb (66kg). This was some 53lb (24kg) more than the horse finishing in second place.
With technology and engineering continuing to improve the 1948 Melbourne Cup saw the photo finish camera in action for the first time. Many of the onlookers didn’t believe the result of the photo finish and thought Dark Marne had beaten Rimfire. It was only after the event it was discovered the camera was incorrectly aligned. By 1958 the first starting stalls were introduced and in 1960 the race was first televised live to Sydney.
It was the turn of the century and in 2003 the first female jockey participated in the Gold Cup, some 142 years after the first Melbourne Cup was run. Clare Lindop mounted Debben that day and twelve years later in 2015 Michelle Payne rode Prince of Penzance to victory to become the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. To make the win even more historic the horse was backed at 100–1 making it only the fourth horse to win the race with such high odds. That race was also shrouded with some sadness shortly thereafter. Red Cadeaux did not finish the race that day running his fifth Melbourne Cup and was enthused two weeks later. The British bred gelding was effectively a celebrity having been the only horse ever to finish runner-up on three occasions.
Most Successful Horses of the Melbourne Cup
We have already mentioned Archer winning the Melbourne Cup twice but there were three other horses to match the achievement. They were Peter Pan in 1932 and 1934, Rain Lover in 1968 and 1969 and Think Big in 1974 and 1975. However, it took over 140 years of the Melbourne Cup to produce a three-time winner that was a mare. Makybe Diva won the race in 2003, 2004 and 2005 and was ridden by Glen Boss.
Most Successful Winning Jockeys of the Melbourne Cup
Talking about Glen Boss, his three wins on Makybe Diva does not make him the most successful jockey of the Melbourne Cup. Two riders have ridden their mounts to four wins during their careers. The first to achieve this was Bobbie Lewis over a 25-year period winning on The Victory in 1902, Patrobas in 1915, Artilleryman in 1919 and Trivalve in 1927.
It took just over 50 years for this record to be equalled. Harry White dominated from 1974 to 1979 when there were only two races he did not win in 1976 and 1977. The horses he steered to victory were two consecutive victories for Think Big and a win apiece with Arwon and Hyperno.
Most Successful Winning Trainer of the Melbourne Cup
Born in 1927 and passing at the age of 87 in 2015, Bart Cummings practically won it all in terms of the Australian horse racing circuit. In the Melbourne Gold Cup, he is a twelve-time winning trainer over a 43-year period. His first success in 1965 with Light Fingers was the beginning of a hat-trick of wins as the following two years, he trained Galilee and Red Handed to victory. His final win came in 2008 with Viewed. The next most successful trainer only has a meagre five wins leaving the name of legendary Bart Cummings to be talked about for many years to come.
Most Successful Winning Owner of the Melbourne Cup
Similar to Bart Cummings the all-time leading owner has amassed seven wins and outstripped the competition’s next best who have four wins. Lloyd Williams is the most successful trainer, when in 1981 he owned the winner Just a Dash. Other notable winners included What a Nuisance, Efficient and Almandin. His seventh and most recent winner came in 2020 when Twilight Payment finished first.
Now you know a lot more about the Melbourne Cup you may be considering placing a wager for the race that will take place on 1st November 2022. Keep your eye on the entry list and those horses that will be taking part and their form, as the field is currently limited to 24. In the last 20 starts almost 50% of the winners have been Australian trained horses.
You may wish to pay attention to the trainers. During the past 20 starts Lee Freedman, Joseph Patrick O’Brien and Robert Hickmott have each had two wins. Chris Waller won last year with Verry Elleegant and he has a good record as a trainer in the Everest.
Alternatively, you can pay attention to the jockeys and their form at the event and throughout the season. At the Melbourne Cup, Glen Boss is the most successful jockey in the last 20 starts. But how could he not be when he won each time riding Makybe Diva? However, that last win came back in 2005. Other jockeys with two wins in the past 20 Melbourne Cups include Corey Brown and Kerrin McEvoy.
The Melbourne Cup is a fascinating race where the winners are able to demonstrate strength and endurance. Remember there is a large field of 24 horses starting the race, so it can be difficult to predict the winner or those being placed. We at mr.play recommend you bet with caution and within your financial limits. If you feel you have a problem with betting or need some help with safer gambling techniques, then contact gambleaware.co.uk for confidential free help and advice.