The first ever running of the Melbourne Cup was on a Thursday in 1861 and assembled a field of seventeen who raced for just 710 gold sovereigns (£710) cash and a gold watch in front of a crowd of around 4000 people.
The Etienne De Mestre trained Archer was the first winner of what would go on to become Australia's most famous race and was ridden by John Cutts and ran a time of 3.52.00.
History has it that Archer travelled by the steamboat 'City Of Melbourne' along with his trainer to take his place in the Melbourne Cup. To prove it wasn't a fluke, Archer won the race the following year in front of 7000 people to win 810 gold sovereigns (£810) cash and a gold watch, to become the first dual winner of the Melbourne Cup.
Melbourne Cup early history
In 1875 the Melbourne Cup moved to a Tuesday and the following year three-year-old filly Briseis created a slice of history when she won the Victoria Derby, Melbourne Cup and VRC Oaks over a period of six days.
Melbourne Cup Day was declared a public holiday in Victoria in 1877 and just three years later a crowd of more than 100,000 attended Flemington for the first time on Cup day to witness the unbeaten Grand Flaneur take out the race that stops a nation.
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In 1890 a huge field of 39 horses assembled for the Melbourne Cup and grand galloper Carbine won the race in a then record time of 3.28.25, carrying 65.5 kilograms which was a record weight for the Melbourne Cup.
Melbourne Cup in the early days
The Melbourne Cup was first broadcast to the public in 1925 by the ABC and it would be only five years later in 1930 that Australia's most loved racehorse Phar Lap would win the Melbourne Cup at the shortest ever Melbourne Cup price of 11/8 on, or around $1.71 or so in today's prices.
Tote betting was first introduced on the Melbourne Cup in 1931 and the photo-finish was first implemented to Flemington in 1946.
The brilliant galloper Rising Fast had a spring carnival to saviour in 1954 winning the Turnbull Stakes, Caulfield Stakes, Caulfield Cup, WS Cox Plate, Mackinnon Stakes, Fisher Plate (Queen Elizabeth Stakes) alongside that year's Melbourne Cup.
The Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) came to fruition in 1961 and the following year saw the intoruction of the 'Fashions on the Field' at the spring racing carnival
Melbourne Cup - The Bart Cumming's era
The legendary Bart Cumming's trained his first Melbourne Cup winner in 1964 when outstanding mare Light Fingers strode to victory to claim the Cup.
In 1972 the race changed from 2 miles to the slightly shorter 3200 metres when the Metric system was introduced to Australia, and in 1979 Harry White rode Hyperno to victory to equal the great Bobbie Lewis's record of four Melbourne Cup wins for a jockey.
Prizemoney for the Melbourne Cup reached $1,000,000 for the first time in 1985 when race sponsorship was introduced, and What A Nuisance claimed the first million dollar Cup
Kingston Rule ran the fastest recorded Cup time in 1990 when he scorched over the 3200 metres in 3 minutes 16.3 seconds.
New Zealand trainer Sheila Laxon became the first woman to train a Melbourne Cup winner when her classy mare Ethereal won the 2001 Melbourne Cup after having previously won the Caulfield Cup beforehand.
Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to ride a Melbourne Cup winner when she guided the Darren Weir trained Pirates Of Penzance to victory in the 2015 Melbourne Cup.
In 2003 a record crowd of 122,736 people attended Flemington to see champion mare Makybe Diva win the first of her three Melbourne Cups.
The following year Makybe Diva became the fifth horse to win dual Melbourne Cups alongside Archer (1861-62), Peter Pan (1932/1934), Rain Lover (1968-1969) and Think Big (1974-1975).
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In 2005 Makybe Diva became the first galloper to win three Melbourne Cups (2003, 2004 & 2005) and she also broke her own weight carrying record for a mare when she lumped a massive 58 kilograms to claim her third Melbourne Cup in a row. In doing so, jockey Glen Boss became the first hoop to ride three Melbourne Cup winners in a row,
Bart Cummings won his 12th Melbourne Cup in 2008 when Viewed just lasted to defeat UK stayer Bauer in a most exciting finish.
In 2011 it was an all international affair when French stayer Dunaden scored by the narrowest of margins from England galloper Red Cadeaux, while German horse Lucas Cranach ran third.
Melbourne Cup - A Global Event
The Melbourne Cup has risen to great heights in recent years and is now a highly regarded race on the world stage. A number of highly credentialled international gallopers are now attracted to our shores in lure of the big prizemoney on offer and the spoils that go with becoming a Melbourne Cup winner.
Irish stayers Vintage Crop (1993) and Media Puzzle (2002) both won the Melbourne Cup, while other UK gallopers Central Park, Give The Slip, Persian Punch, Vinnie Roe and Bauer all managed to run placings in our greatest race.
Two Japanese stayers Delta Blues and Pop Rock ran the quinella in the 2006 Melbourne Cup to put Australian racing out there on the world stage.
More recently, American bred stayer Americain, trained by Alain de Royer-Dupre in France, won the 2010 Melbourne Cup when he finished strongly with Gerald Mosse aboard, while international gallopers Dunaden & Red Cadeaux fought out a very tight finish to quinella the 2011 Melbourne Cup.
Former Irish stayer Green Moon defeated imported stayers Fiorente & Jakkalberry to win the 2012 Melbourne Cup in an exciting finish. Fiorente returned the following year to win the 2013 Melbourne Cup for Sydney trainer Gai Waterhouse, while German stayer Protectionist made a one act affair of the 2014 Melbourne Cup.
2016 Melbourne Cup
The $6,175,000 Melbourne Cup will take place on Tuesday 1st November 2016 at Flemington racecourse over a distance of 3200 metres under handicap conditions. The 2015 Melbourne Cup was won by Prince Of Penzance from Max Dynamite and Criterion.
Melbourne Cup Facts & Figures
||Kingston Rule (1990)
||Archer (1862) & Rain Lover (1968)
||Makybe Diva (2003-2005)
||Bobby Lewis (1902, 1915, 1919, 1927) & Harry White (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979)
||Bart Cummings (1965, 1966, 1967, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1999, 2008)
||Winning horse: Carbine (1890) 10 st. 5 lbs.
||Winning mare: Makybe Diva (2005)
||Runner: Phar Lap (1931) 10 st. 10 lbs. 8th
||The Pearl (1871), Wotan (1936) & Old Rowley (1940)
||Phar Lap (1930)
Recent Melbourne Cup Winners & Placegetters
||Prince Of Penzance
||Who Shot Thebarman
||So You Think
||C'est La Guerre
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