Fun Facts about the Melbourne Cup  

It’s the race that stops the nation at 3pm, the first Tuesday in November- The Melbourne Cup! In celebration of Australia’s biggest race, our blog post today has gathered all the fun facts we can find about the world’s greatest “2-mile” race.  

The Race that Stops the Nation 

  • The first running was in 1861 
  • It wasn’t always run on a Tuesday, or even in November! The first Tuesday in November became tradition after 1875. Over the first decade of the race, it was run on a Thursday, and even once in October.  
  • The first running in 1861 was won by Archer, a stallion who had been travelled on foot from Terara NSW, a mere 800km from the track. Archer went on to win the 1862 running as well, placing him in an elite category of horses to have won the cup more than once.  
  • Up to 39 horses have taken to the starting barriers, which was in the running of the 1890 Cup. In the modern era, the race is capped at 24 starters.  
  • Over 100,000 people flock to Flemington on Race Day. 2003 holds an attendance record of over 122,700 spectators.  


The “Cup” 

  • It wasn’t until 1865 that a trophy was awarded for winning “The Cup”. The first trophy was in fact deemed so unattractive that it was sold by the winner, and eventually re-presented as a prize at the local Hunt Club  
  • Trophy design was original for each running, up until 1919 when the traditional Cup style we recognize today, was adopted  
  • The $1 Million prizemoney of the 1985 Melbourne Cup made it the first race in Australia to reach over a million. This prize pool has continued to expand, to over $8 million in 2021 
  • There has never been a dead heat for first prize, meaning no sharing of the cup! However there has been two instances where 3rd place getters were inseparable. 


Cup Records 

  • The fastest time which the 3200m race has been run was 3:16.3 minutes, set by Kingston Rule in 1990 
  • The longest winning margin is 8 lengths, achieved by Archer (1862) and Rain Lover (1968) 
  • Makybe Diva holds the most cup wins for a single horse, passing the post first in 2003, 2004 and 2005 
  • Bart Cummings, the Cup King, has trained the most winners, with 12 titles.  
  • Two jockeys in history have won the cup on 4 occasions. Bobby Lewis in the early 1900’s and Harry White in the 1970’s.  
  • Lloyd Williams is the most successful Melbourne Cup winning Owner, with 7 titles 


Girl Power 

  • Ever heard of Melbourne Cup winner Briseis? Briseis won the 1876 running, as a 3yo filly. Within the same week though, she also ran in, and won, the Victorian Derby and the Oaks! To top it all off, she was jockeyed by the youngest winner in the race’s history, almost 13yo Peter St Albans 
  • First female jockey to ride in the race was Maree Lyndon in 1987, riding Argonaut Style 
  • Sheila Laxon trained mare Ethereal to claim the 2001 Cup, and title of first female winning trainer 
  • Gai Waterhouse, the Queen of Australian Racing trained Fiorente to top glory in 2013 
  • In 2015 Michelle Payne wrote history as the first female jockey to be first over the line, with $101 odds, Prince of Penzance.  
  • 11 mares have won the race over its recorded history 


A numbers game 

  • No horse has ever won from barrier 18, nor won with the number 18 saddlecloth 
  • Barrier 5 has been most successful  
  • Brew in 2000 was the last horse to win from the outermost barrier, jumping from gate 22. 
  • Numbers 4 and 12 share the record for most wins, with 11 each 


They come from afar 

  • Vintage Crop, in 1993, was the first Northern Hemisphere trained horse to salute for the cup 
  • Internationals have dominated the field. Of the past 5 running’s, 4 winners have come from abroad. In 2020 the first 4 past the post were all bred outside of Australia  
  • Vow and Declare (2019) was the first Australian bred and trained horse to win since Shocking (2009) 


Happy Melbourne Cup, and best of luck! 


Written by Sharne H.  


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