The Melbourne Cup is the most famous horse race in Australia and one of the richest thoroughbred races in the entire world. Raced over 3200 metres by horses three years old and over, this great event is the major highlight of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. Hosted every year at Flemington Racecourse, the Melbourne Cup truly is “the race that stops a nation”.
With a history that stretches back to 1861, many of Australia’s most elite horses have won this event. Archer won the inaugural race in front of an estimated crowd of 4000 people, in a race that was eventful to say the least. With one horse bolting before the start and seventeen starters falling during the race, two of which died, the Melbourne Cup got off to a rather inauspicious start.
The Melbourne Cup quickly became popular with racing fans, however, with 100,000 people in attendance by 1880. The Cup was originally held on a Thursday, moving to its Tuesday timeslot in 1875 and remaining that way ever since except for a few years during the Second World War. While a number of great horses have won the Melbourne Cup over the years, perhaps the most famous winner was Phar Lap in 1930, who became the shortest priced favourite to win this event.
Some of the other champions who have won the Melbourne Cup over the years include Carbine in 1890, Peter Pan in 1932 and 1934, Comic Court in 1950, Rising Fast in 1954, Rain Lover in 1968 and 1969, Kiwi in 1983, Vintage Crop in 1993, Might and Power in 1997, and Makybe Diva in 2003, 2004 and 2005. In the last few years, winners include Viewed in 2008, Shocking in 2009, Americain in 2010, Dunaden in 2011, and Green Moon in 2012.
The last decade has been an eventful one for the Melbourne Cup, with a number of historic races and events taking place. Makybe Diva became the only horse to win the race three times in 2005, Bart Cummings took his 12th victory as a trainer in 2008, and French horse Dunaden crossed the finish line first in the closest finish ever in 2011.