Conditions & Weights: Open Handicap with penalties, 3yr old and up, top weight to be not less than 57kg.
Distance: 3200 metres (approx. 2 miles)
Course Record: 3:16.30 Kingston Rule, 1990 Melbourne Cup
Track: Turf, left handed.
Track Bias: The race starts in a chute leading into the home straight and gives the field around 900m to run to the winning post for the first time. The maximum field size is 24 runners but all horses will have their chance, fitness is an important factor with the long final straight finding out those horses lacking the peak fitness to cope with this hectic and tough 2 mile race. Barrier draw is not the most important thing but most winners have come from inside barrier 16. Very hard to lead all the way but it is an advantage to be racing in the first half of the field after the final turn.
History: The race began in 1861 and has become such an integral part of Australian culture that Melbourne has a public holiday and Australians all over the country and overseas stop to listen for the race call by whatever means they can. It is often referred to as “the race that stops a nation” and in the weeks leading up to the race the iconic three handled Cup trophy tours the country. It is the highpoint of a week of racing covering 4 days of meetings at Flemington, always run on the 1st Tuesday in November and can attract attendance on course of around 100,000.
The 1st winner of the Cup was Archer and legend has it that the horse was walked 550 miles from his stable in N.S.W. to compete in the race. It’s a great story, but shipping records indicate he actually came by sea. Archer also won the second Melbourne Cup in 1862. Winning the Cup immediately elevates the horse to iconic status and over time some have gone on to be famous as breeders. Carbine won the race in 1890 and after a short time at stud in Australia went to England where he became a stablemate of Sir Simon. His son Spearmint won the 1906 Epsom Derby and Spearmint’s son Spion Kop won the 1920 Derby. He was the Great Great Grandsire of the famous Nearco whose descendents include Secretariat, Nashua, Northern Dancer, Roberto, At Talaq and just about every famous racehorse in the USA, Australia, Japan, the British Isles and Ireland. At Talaq Won the Melbourne Cup in 1986 having won the Grand Prix De Paris in 1984.
In 1930, Phar Lap was the people's champion, in 1932 he went to America where he won the Agua Caliente Handicap in record time. Shortly after, Phar Lap died under mysterious circumstances, but his popularity in Australia was so great that his remains were preserved with his heart going to Canberra, his skeleton going to his country of birth, New Zealand, and his mounted hide returning to Melbourne where it is on display at the Melbourne Museum to this day. After Phar Lap, the next most popular horse in Melbourne Cup history is probably Makybe Diva, who, in 2005, became the first horse to win three Melbourne Cups, which she did consecutively. She is also the only mare to have carried 58kgs to victory and only the 14th mare in history to win the race in 150 renewals of this great race. In recent years more international trainers have begun entering their horses, Ireland’s Dermot Weld has won the Cup two times to date with other successful raiders hailing from Japan and France.
Past Winners: Americain 2010 (also Prix Kergorlay, Prix de L’Arve, Prix de Lutec, & Geelong Cup), Delta Blues 2006 (3rd Hanshin Daishotan & 3rd Caulfield Cup), Makybe Diva 2003 ,2004, 2005, Vintage Crop 1993 (Irish St Leger & Curragh Cup),
Lead Up Form: Winners of several 2400m Grp 3 or better races in Australia can get an automatic start, also several international races such as The Doncaster Cup, Irish St Leger, Tenno Sho, Sankei Sho, Arlington Million and San Juan Capistrano qualify and beat the ballot. In recent time the Caulfield Cup and Geelong Cup have provided the best lead up form.
Related Races: Part of the Melbourne Spring Carnival which includes (among other races) the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate, Victoria Derby, VRC Oaks & Emirates Stakes.
Statistics & Trends: Only 5 horses have won the race more than once: Archer 1861 & ’62, Peter Pan 1932 & ‘34, Rain Lover 1968 &’69, Think Big 1974& ’75, Makybe Diva 2003, ’04 &’05, The last 3yo to win was Skipton in 1941, but several three year old horses have placed in recent years, assisted by their weight advantage over the older horses. Winners have struggled to carry more than 58kgs to victory in the modern era.
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