International interest in the Melbourne Cup goes back to the early days, when a number of horses were imported to Australia in order to compete. While the first New Zealand winner of the Melbourne Cup was Martini-Henry in 1883, horses from over the Tasman are not normally considered true international runners in Australian races.
The first ‘real’ international winner was Comedy King in 1910, when his owner Sol Green imported the mare Tragedy Queen to Australia with her future colt winner at foot. However, Comedy King was only technically from overseas, having been raised and trained in Australia. Future international winners include Backwood in 1924, Belldale Ball in 1980, At Talaq in 1986, and Jeune in 1994.
In 1993, Irish trained Vintage Crop won the Melbourne Cup in a new and exciting way. After flying to Australia only weeks before the race, Vintage Crop rode away with a famous victory. Since then, more and more international runners have flown to Melbourne in an attempt to win the race, with Irish trainer Dermot Weld winning again in 2002 with Media Puzzle, and Japanese horse Delta Blues winning in 2006.
The 2010 Melbourne Cup was won by French trained and ridden Americain, with French trained Dunaden winning the 151st Melbourne Cup a year later in 2011. As the Melbourne Cup and other high profile Australian races open up more to international competition, we are only likely to see more international winners in future years.