MEMORABLE MELBOURNE CUP MOMENTS
Legend has it that in 1861, Archer walked more than 500 miles from his home in NSW to win the first Melbourne Cup.
More recent research and logic suggests he went by boat.
Whichever way he travelled, Archer was fit enough to beat the favourite Mormon in the first Cup by six lengths.
The prize was 1420 pounds and the trophy a gold watch.
Archer came back the following year to beat Mormon again, this time by eight lengths. His trainer Etienne de Mestre would go on to train three more winners of the Melbourne Cup – Tim Whiffler (1867), Chester (1877) and Calamia (1878).
De Mestre’s Cup record stood for 99 years until Bart Cummings claimed his sixth of 12 Cup wins in 1977 with Hyperno.
More than three-quarters of a century on and he is still revered as the greatest thoroughbred to grace the Australian turf.
Phar Lap’s never-to-be-repeated spring of 1930 inspired an Australia in desperate need of heroes at the height of the Great Depression.
After strolling home by four lengths in the Cox Plate, Phar Lap famously survived a shooting attempt on his life on Derby Day just hours before he easily won the Melbourne Stakes.
Three days later the nation was held in thrall as the “Red Terror”, burdened with a record weight for a four-year-old of 9st 12lb (62.5kg), became the first and still the only odds-on favourite to triumph in the race that stops a nation – the Melbourne Cup.
Phar Lap did what will never be done again by winning on all four days of the Cup carnival – over different distances.
Two years later Phar Lap went off to conquer the world and started by winning what was then the world’s richest race in Mexico on March 20, 1932.
Just 16 days later he died in mysterious circumstances in America and Australia mourned as one.
The big horse was gone but the legend had just begun.
THE CUPS KING
A 23-year-old Bart Cummings had his first experience of a Melbourne Cup win as the strapper of his trainer-father Jim’s horse Comic Court in 1950.
Fifteen years later, Light Fingers gave him a victory of his own to begin a Cup record like no other.
James Bartholomew Cummings, the man known as Bart, has now trained a record 12 Cup winners and has had the first two across the line five times.
Hot on the heels of his Light Fingers-Ziema quinella, Cummings provided the Cup one-two the following year with Galilee beating Light Fingers and made it a hat-trick when Red Handed scored in 1967.
Cummings had to wait seven years for his next Cup which came courtesy of Think Big for his close friend Dato Tan Chin Nam. In a prime example of the trainer’s ability to have a horse trained to the minute, Think Big did not win another race until the 1975 Cup came around.
Gold And Black was the next Cup winner off Cummings’ production line in 1977 and Hyperno did the trick in 1979.
Cummings then endured his longest “drought” in the Cup, having to wait 11 years until Kingston Rule brought up win No.8 quickly followed by the mighty mare Let’s Elope in 1991.
Saintly, dubbed the Horse from Heaven, backed up from his 1996 Cox Plate win to claim the Cup.
Rogan Josh, a West Australian horse Cummings had been asked to train for the Cup, pulled it off in 1999.
His most recent Cup in 2008 was also one of the closest with Viewed holding on by a bare margin to beat Bauer.
Viewed was also the fourth for the long-standing Dato Tan-Bart combination. The two men are still chasing the Cup together and veteran Precedence will represent them on Tuesday.
Before the big European stables turned their attention to the Melbourne Cup 20 years ago, it was the New Zealanders who were the bane of the local trainers.
They hit hard – and often – in Australia’s greatest race, most notably when Blarney Kiss gelding Kiwi stole the show in 1983 with his unbelievable finishing burst from last of 24 runners to claim the Cup with a youthful Jim Cassidy in the saddle.
Trained by sheep farmer Snow Lupton and owned by him and his wife Anne, Kiwi was bought as a yearling for just $NZ1,000 – Anne liked the Blarney Kiss breed and wanted a chestnut.
Lupton rounded up the sheep on his farm on Kiwi between races and after he won the Wellington Cup (3200m) in January 1983 the Luptons targeted the Melbourne Cup.
They turned heads when they only brought him across the Tasman six days before the Cup after he had won the Egmont Cup (2100m) on October 19.
Thirteen days later they were the toast of Australasian racing after Kiwi’s breathtaking victory.
Lupton’s instructions to Cassidy were not to panic because he expected Kiwi to be trailing the field for most of the race.
That is exactly where he was, some 25 to 30 lengths off the lead with 800 metres to run.
Cassidy began to weave a passage through the field on the 9-1 chance but victory still looked a forlorn hope until Kiwi went whoosh in the final 100 metres.
So fast did he come that he beat Noble Comment, who was being hailed the winner at the 50 metres, by a widening 1-3/4 lengths.
“I was mentally preparing my acceptance speech until Kiwi came along,” Noble Comment’s trainer George Hanlon said.
Conceived in Ireland and born in England, Makybe Diva and her mother Tugela were brought to Australia by her tuna fisherman owner Tony Santic after they were unsuccessfully offered at auction.
Santic’s decision to keep the pair and race the filly was in hindsight, a master stroke.
After Makybe Diva won the 2002 Queen Elizabeth Stakes her trainer David Hall mapped out a 12-month program leading to the Melbourne Cup.
The plan came off perfectly with the mare unleashing a whirlwind finish under Glen Boss to win the Cup.
The victory cemented a Hong Kong contract for her trainer and Makybe Diva was transferred to Lee Freedman who set her to win a second Cup.
In what was a virtual replay of the year before, Boss found the right lane and Makybe Diva became the first mare to win back-to-back Cups.
But the almost unbelievable best was yet to come.
Under topweight of 58kg, Makybe Diva did the seemingly impossible in 2005 and won an unprecedented third successive Cup.
Freedman thought long and hard about what he would say if such a moment happened.
“Go and find the smallest child on this racecourse because he might be the only one that will live long enough to see this again,” Freedman said.
Santic collected his third trophy and promptly announced Makybe Diva had nothing left to do on the track and she was retired at the top of her game.
An American-bred, Australian-owned horse trained by a Frenchman and ridden by a Hong Kong-based jockey in 2010 cemented the Melbourne Cup as a truly global event.
Americain reigned supreme over one of the best Cup fields ever assembled, with emerging star Maluckyday chasing him home for second, relegating race and crowd favourite So You Think to third and denying Bart Cummings a 13th trophy.
Melbourne businessmen Gerry Ryan and Kevin Bamford paid $US225,000 for Americain and plotted an unusual course for the Cup, sending him to Alain De Royer-Dupre at Chantilly on the outskirts of Paris.
Gerald Mosse, Americain’s French rider who spends much of his time in Hong Kong, did his homework well and kept $3 shot So You Think, the shortest-priced Cup favourite in 39 years, in his sights from the outset.
“So You Think, I wanted to keep him not too far away and I didn’t want to give him too much (start),” he said.
“I saw So You Think start to go and I followed him. At the 250 (metres) I am going to catch him.
“I definitely enjoyed that moment. It’s something very special.”
In 1993 Gai Waterhouse produced Te Akau Nick to run second in the Melbourne Cup.
The only horse to beat him was Vintage Crop, beginning the annual invasion of northern hemisphere horses to Australia for our most famous race.
A couple of years later, Waterhouse ran Victoria Derby winner Nothin’ Leica Dane in the Cup but the more experienced Doriemus was too strong and the trainer settled for second again.
By the time the 2012 Cup came around, Waterhouse had well and truly embraced the growing trend to source stayers from Europe.
At his first Australian start, Fiorente gave Waterhouse her third second in the Cup when runner-up to Green Moon, laying the foundation for 12 months later.
And 20 years and more than 100 Group One winners since her first Cup runner, Waterhouse fulfilled her destiny when Fiorente relegated Red Cadeaux to second.
It was a moment to savour for one of Australia’s most prolific trainers and she proudly took the Cup with her everywhere she went, posing with photographs of Australia’s most prized racing trophy.
Just how hard it is to win the Cup is underlined by the record of Waterhouse’s father, the late TJ Smith who set training records that will stand for a long time.
But even he could only manage to win the race twice – in 1955 with Toporoa and 1981 with Just A Dash.
Waterhouse hopes it won’t be as long between Cup wins for her stable but she will be watching from the sidelines this year with her lone entrant The Offer taken out after failing to convince her he was in the right condition to win.