Melbourne Cup History
Melbourne Cup History and what it means Today
This year sees the 153rd running of the Melbourne Cup, a horse race that has a stronger foothold in popular Australian culture than any other sporting occasion.
Engraving of the 1881 Melbourne Cup
But the race's place in the fabric of Australia is rapidly changing from a famous sporting contest to a truly international experience. The Cup started life as a modestly prized handicap in front of a crowd of around 4,000 spectators with Archer the winner.
Legend has Archer walking 500 miles from Nowra to Melbourne to contest the first Melbourne Cup, though reports at the time reveal he travelled by steamer from Sydney to Melbourne.
The history of the Melbourne Cup is filled with the most compelling of story lines. During the depression it was a horse call Phar Lap, known as ‘Big Red’ that gave people excitement and enjoyment in the toughest or times. There have been triumphs through adversity, none more so than Damien Oliver’s win on Media Puzzle in 2002 having just lost his brother in a riding incident. There have been many great training feats, but one that’s unrivaled is the record of the most famous trainer of them all, J.B Cummings. Better known as Bart, the champion trainer has won an astonishing 12 times.
There have been famous scandals too. In 1969 Bart Cummings had been extremely confident with his runner Big Philou, however on the eve of the race his horse was poisoned and couldn’t take a place in the Cup.
This year, thoroughbred bluebloods from around the world will be flown to Melbourne and housed in virtual luxury in their bid to win the “race that stops a nation”.
The Melbourne Cup has now firmed into an international, with Irish trainer Dermott Weld scoring two recent winners, Japanese horses running first and second (2006) and Dunaden/Americain fresh off back to back overseas 'raider' victories.
This year there will be unprecedented interest from foreign stables as they try to win the world's richest handicap race. The handicap conditions of the Melbourne Cup mean horses are allotted a weight to carry on the basis of their disclosed racetrack form.
In theory that means the best horses will always carry the most weight, as opposed to weight-for-age racing where horses are allocated a weight that is based on their sex and age, and not their career history.
Handicap conditions mean astute trainers will try and get their horse into the Melbourne Cup with as little weight as possible. However they often tread a tricky path as a horse placed too low in the ratings may be denied a start if higher weighted horses take all the places in the field.
Often Punters refer back to the champion racehorse Black Cavair, however as she was a sprinter, the Melbourne Cup distance was out of her league. Some good insight is our recent review on Black Caviar vs Phar Lap - who is the better horse?.
The history of the Melbourne Cup is littered with tales of astute trainers landing major betting plunges as they sneak their charges into the race with luxurious featherweights, but the arrival of high quality international horses means that the only way of gaining a start in the Melbourne Cup these days is to make sure a horse's form is good enough to earn a weight that guarantees a place in the final field.
Though the Melbourne Cup is now a global event with horses, trainers and jockeys from around the world arriving at Flemington to try and win the world famous event an Australian training legend is still the most successful Cup winner of all time. Bart Cummings has won an amazing 12 Cups since his first win in 1965 with Light Fingers and he'll be back this year for Flemington's famous race.
For thousands of Australia's once a year punters, the easiest way to sort out the winner of the Melbourne Cup was to simply back a Bart Cummings runner.
However, recent trends are showing that imports (Horses bred overseas, but trained by Aussies) are also a good bet, as Peter G. Moody, Gai Waterhourse, Robert Hickmott and other astute trainers are stocking up on international stayers.
A fact that's evolved because of the recent success of Americain (USA) and Dunaden (FR), and this year's vintage crop of Imported Horses promises more of the same. Two of the main chances in the the 2013 Melbourne Cup which fall into this group are Gai Waterhouse-trained Fiorente and the Darren Weir-trained grey Puissance De Lune.
Increasing Prize Money and Popularity
This year's Melbourne Cup hopefuls race for a total prize of $6 million, but for many of the 100,000 plus race goers who flock to Flemington Racecourse the race takes second place. The Melbourne Cup is the social highlight for many in the crowd with fashions and celebrities battling head to head with the equine stars for headlines and prime time television spots.
With the Melbourne Cup attracting the largest viewing audience of any event in the country, the Cup is no longer just a horse race. Corporate advertisers use extravagant hosting marquees and international celebrities to entertain important clients and gain invaluable promotion. For many of the 100,000 people at Flemington this year for the Melbourne Cup it won't be about who wins the race, but it will be about who you see and who you are seen with. For the Melbourne Cup has moved on from being a simple horse race. It's now about big business, big brands and big promotional budgets.
But on the first Tuesday in November the safest bet is to stick with the proven trainers as they have set their horses for this race a long time out from November.
Melbourne Cup Results!
Melbourne Cup Horses
|#1 Fiorente||Gai Waterhouse|
|#2 Mount Athos||Luca Cumani|
|#3 Dandino||Marco Botti|
|#4 Verema||Alain Dupre|
|#5 Hawkspur||Chris Waller|
|#6 Sea Moon||Robert Hickmont|
|#7 Voleuse De Coeurs||Michael Moroney|
Melbourne Cup Menu
Everything needed for a win on the great race!
See Australia's best Melbourne Cup tips!
See the top horses likely to run in this years race.
Free speed maps, stats, horse profiles and more.
Compare and get the best available 2013 odds.
Review past winners and see the 2013 results
Compare bookmakers and get free bets!