The world’s hardiest stayers line up at Flemington Racecourse each year to battle it out over 3200m in the Group 1 Melbourne Cup. It requires phenomenal levels of guts, stamina and determination to win the race that stops a nation, and the victors go down in history. There have been several famous winners over the years, but these are the 10 that we would place in the Melbourne Cup Hall of Fame:
Sydney outsider Archer travelled to Victoria on a steam boat to contest the very first Melbourne Cup in 1861. He was given no chance of beating Victorian champion Mormon, but Archer made a mockery of the odds and finished six lengths clear of his rivals. He trounced the field once again in 1862, and only a bureaucratic scandal stopped him from completing a hat-trick the following year.
Carbine was famous for his indefatigable stamina, his ability to shoulder a heavy burden and his impressive pace on the rough tracks on the 19th century. He holds the record for the heaviest weight ever carried by a Melbourne Cup winner. Carbine was lumbered with an outrageous 10 stone 5 pounds (66 kg) in the 1890 Melbourne Cup, but he still beat 38 rivals to salute at Flemington. He won 17 of his final 18 races and he will go down as one of the greatest Australian stayers of all time.
The legendary Phar Lap is the shortest odds winner in Melbourne Cup history. He went off with a starting price of just 8/11 after surviving an assassination attempt to compete in the 1930 Melbourne Cup. He coasted to victory, delighting the punters that backed him to the hilt. If you check the odds at https://www.punters.com.au/melbourne-cup/melbourne-cup-horses/, you are unlikely to ever see such short odds on a runner in the Melbourne Cup again. Yet there has never been a horse quite like Phar Lap, and many believe that he would beat all the other Melbourne Cup winners if they were to race.
Peter Pan became the second stayer to win two Melbourne Cups. He was famed for his unusual colouring – chestnut with a blonde mane and tail – and many loved him for his beauty. Yet he was also a magnificently talented thoroughbred who won the 1932 Melbourne Cup by a neck. He was prevented from running in 1922, as he battled a near-fatal viral disease that swept Sydney’s racing stables, but he returned to win the race that stops a nation in 1934.
Rain Lover became just the second runner to win back-to-back Melbourne Cups when he saluted in 1968 and 1969. His first triumph saw him win by a record eight-length margin and in a record time of 3:19.1. He then beat Alsop by a neck to defend his crown the following year. He liked to lead from the start, and his rivals simply could not catch him.
Think Big handed iconic trainer Bart Cummings his fourth victory in the Melbourne Cup when he beat heavily backed stablemate Leilani in 1974. His form then dipped badly, and he was a 33/1 outsider for the 1975 Melbourne Cup. However, Think Big always saved his best performances for the Cup, and he got the better of another stablemate, Holiday Wagon, to secure a second triumph. It was Cummings’ fifth Cup win and fourth quinella, and he went on to win the Cup a record 12 times.
Kingston Rule holds the record for the fastest winning time in Melbourne Cup history. He completed the race in a time of 3:16.3 in 1990, finishing well clear of his rivals. Kingston Rule, a son of the famous US Triple Crown winner Secretariat, was also part of the Cummings stable. No stayer has ever been able to beat his time in the ensuing decades.
Might and Power
New Zealand-bred front-runner Might and Power is one of just 11 horses to win the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup double. He is also one of two horses to win both Cups and the Cox Plate, showing what a versatile runner he was. Might and Power broke course records in the winning the Caulfield Cup, the Doomben Cup, and the Cox Plate, and won a number of races by big margins.
Makybe Diva is officially the most successful horse in Melbourne Cup history after winning the race three times in a row between 2003 and 2005. A South Australian tuna fisherman called Tony Santic owned the mare. He named her after five of his employees – Maureen, Kylie, Belinda, Diane, and Vanessa – by taking the first two letters from each of their names. She will go down in history as a Melbourne Cup legend, and her final triumph is possibly the greatest moment in the race’s history.
Prince of Penzance
Prince of Penzance became the fourth 100/1 underdog to win the Melbourne Cup when he saluted in 2015. The Peal pulled it off in 1871, followed by Wotan in 1936 and Old Rowley in 1940, but it seemed as though a 100/1 roughie would never prevail in the modern era. Yet Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to win the race when she guided Prince of Penzance to an improbable victory.