The race that stops a nation, the Melbourne Cup (3200m) is fast approaching. It’s the best known race on the Australian calendar and is starting to become the race that stops a world given the significant international increase in recent years.
Looking back at previous winners of the race has been such a fun exercise. Narrowing it down was a very difficult task but here is my top five Melbourne Cup winners.
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5 – Viewed (2008): We weren’t to know it would be the 12th and final win in the great race for Bart Cummings, with a near rank outsider in the shape of Viewed. The horse didn’t bring the best form leading into the Cup, and most had written him off after a below par effort in the Mackinnon on Derby Day. But that Bart Cummings formula came to the fore, and along with an absolute peach of a ride from Blake Shinn, the son of Scenic dashed to the front and was all over a winner, until Bauer came down the outside and still watching the replay, it’s amazing that Viewed held on, but the photo went his way in what was one of the more popular Cup wins in recent years for the legend himself.
4 – Delta Blues (2006): The race had a taste of the Japanese 12 months prior via Eye Popper but the taste in 2006 became a three course meal with the Japanese pair of Delta Blues and Pop Rock running a clear 1-2. Punters thought it would be other way around, and so did Damien Oliver, who steered Pop Rock. He said Pop Rock would lap Delta Blues in trackwork and was very confident he was the only horse to get past in one of the better beaten rides in recent memory of the Cup. The race was stamped as a proper International contest from this point on.
3 – Might And Power (1997): Leading all the way over the toughest 3200m in world racing is no mean feat. Then again, Might And Power was no ordinary horse. He was a dashing front runner who bolted up in the Caulfield Cup and backed it up on the first Tuesday in November, not before a close photo finish alongside 95 winner Doriemus, with Greg Hall, rider of Doriemus, clearly thinking he had won the race. But the verdict went the way of the ‘Moraitis Marvel’ and he went on the following year to win the Cox Plate and stamp himself as one of the greats of the turf. But this was a memorable win.
2 – Media Puzzle (2002): This was a moment in your life where you remember where you were when you saw. I was at my primary school in room 11 watching the race. Damien Oliver was to partner Media Puzzle to one of the most emotion charged pieces of Australian history. His brother Jason had died in a freak riding accident in Perth the week leading into Cup Week. Following Cup Day, he’d travel back to Perth to attend his brothers funeral. But before then, he produced one of the great Cup winning rides and the Irish galloper bolted up to win the Melbourne Cup and race his way into the memory of Australians forever.
1 – Makybe Diva (2005): The Melbourne Cup is the race that stops a nation. But the 2005 edition was when the nation paused for a horse. The build up to the race had been something we’ve never seen before. Makybe Diva had a gut busting win in the Cox Plate and there was doubt as to whether or not she’d run. The media had been camped outside Lee Freedmans property for several days, pondering and trying to find out will she or won’t she. She got the nod to run, went to the Cup set to lump a weight carrying record…and as Greg Miles perfectly put, “A champion becomes a legend”. Three Melbourne Cups in a row. Much like Winx and her four Cox Plates in a row. We won’t see it again in our life time and it’s right up there with all time great Australian sporting moments.