Melbourne Cup History

Last Updated 9 Jun 2022 | Commercial content | 18+

If you are interested in the Melbourne Cup history and the Melbourne Cup winners, you have come to the right place. Melbourne Cup horse racing, the pinnacle of Australian horse racing, takes place every first Tuesday in November and attracts more than 100,000 people each year. The winner of “The Race that Stops a Nation” gets the largest prize in Australian sport and a Hardy Brothers trophy valued at $175,000.

Melbourne Cup History


The History of the Melbourne Cup

The most famous Thoroughbred horse race in Australia which is held annually takes place at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. Thoroughbreds who are three years old or older participate in this handicap race. The Melbourne Cup horse race is considered to be one of the most prestigious in the world. Melbourne Cup Day was declared a public holiday in 1877 and is a non-working day even today.

The Flemington racecourse in Victoria, Australia, where Melbourne Cup horse racing takes place can accommodate 120,000 spectators. Those who are not fortunate enough to watch the race from the stands can still do so by watching it on large TV screens outside the field. Flemington is a pear-shaped track with a six-furlong length of straight track, which is perfect for sprint races.

The Very First Melbourne Cup

The first Melbourne Cup was held on November 7th, 1861. The race was won by 16.3 hand bay stallion Archer, who was trained by Etienne de Mestre and ridden by John Cutts, one of the best known and respected jockeys of the time. He was therefore the first horse recorded in the Melbourne Cup history books. The prize for this race was 710 gold sovereigns and a gold watch. A total of seventeen horses began the race on the day. Archer, a betting outsider, managed to defeat the favourite, Mormon, by six lengths.

The same horse succeeded in winning another 2-mile race the very next day (the Melbourne Town Plate). He returned to Melbourne in 1862 and took the Melbourne Cup trophy again. He beat Mormon once more, this time by eight lengths.

Recent Melbourne Cup History – 1990s

There have been many notable events in the history of Melbourne Cup horse racing and there are many interesting stories hiding behind the names on the list of Melbourne Cup winners. For example, American-bred Kingston Rule, winner of the 1990 cup and who is the race record holder even today, was only the fifth foreign-trained horse to win the Cup.

In 1993, Vintage Crop became both the first Irish horse to win the Cup and also the first winning horse trained on the Northern hemisphere, which helped him solidify his place in the Melbourne Cup history books.

Recent Melbourne Cup History – 2000s

The beginning of this century brought a lot of excitement about Melbourne Cup horse racing and the Melbourne Cup winners. Makybe Diva, a British-bread Thoroughbred, made history by becoming the only horse to win the race three years in a row – in 2003, 2004, and 2005. She is also the only mare to make it to the list of Melbourne Cup winners that have won multiple times, and one of five Melbourne Cup winners with more than one victory at the Cup.

Bart Cummings, a world-renowned Australian racehorse trainer, made Melbourne Cup history in 2008. He won the Cup for the 12th time with Viewed, an Australian Thoroughbred.

Recent Melbourne Winners

Below you’ll find the horses who have won the Melbourne Cup race over the last 15 years, as well as their trainers and jockeys. Find out more information about the Melbourne Cup results.

Melbourne Cup Year Winning Horse Trainer Jockey
2020 Twilight Payment Joseph O’Brien Jye McNeil
2019 Vow And Declare Danny O’Brien Craig Williams
2018 Cross Counter Charlie Appleby Kerrin McEvoy
2017 Rekindling Joseph O’Brien Corey Brown
2016 Almandin Robert Hickmott Kerrin McEvoy
2015 Prince of Penzance Darren Weir Michelle Payne
2014 Protectionist Andreas Wohler Ryan Moore
2013 Fiorente Gai Waterhouse Damien Oliver
2012 Green Moon Robert Hickmott Brett Prebble
2011 Dunaden Mikel Delzangles Christophe Lemaire
2010 Americain Alain de Royer Dupre Gerald Mosse
2009 Shocking Mark Kavanagh Corey Brown
2008 Viewed Bart Cummings Blake Shinn
2007 Efficient Graeme Rogerson Michael Rodd
2006 Delta Blues Katsuhiko Sumii Yasunari Iwata

Melbourne Cup Records

Which horse has won the Melbourne Cup the most?

Makybe Diva is the horse who holds the record for winning the high-stakes Melbourne Cup race the most. She won three times in consecutive years – 2003, 2004 and 2005. In 2003, the mare’s trainer was David Hall before Lee Freedman took over training her for the 2004 and 2005 editions of the race. Her jockey for all three races was Glen Boss.

First female jockey to win

Jockey Michelle Payne set the record and became the first female jockey to have won the Melbourne Cup race in 2015 when she rode six-year-old gelding Prince of Penzance to victory. To this day, she remains the only winning jockey to be a woman at this iconic horse race in Victoria, Australia.

Which trainer has won the Melbourne Cup the most?

Legendary horse trainer Bart Cummings holds the record for having trained the most Melbourne Cup winning horses with a massive 12 wins at this race. His first win was in 1965 and his last was in 2008.

Trainers Etienne de Mestre and Lee Freedman share the next most wins with five each. de Mestre was also the first trainer to win this historic racing event as Archer won the first race in 1861.

The History of Hats at the Melbourne Cup

Melbourne Cup hats and fascinators have always been a very significant part of Melbourne Cup Day. Thousands of spectators rush to the racecourse and sport their best outfits and accessories to watch the legendary race.

Melbourne Cup hats are richly decorated pieces with plenty of embellishments, such as jewels, beads or feathers. The most striking Melbourne Cup hats in 2018 were worn by Elyse Knowles, Anna Heinrich, Rebecca Harding, and Lara Worthington.

Melbourne Cup History FAQ

Here are a few of the most common questions people have regarding Melbourne Cup horse racing:

When was the first Melbourne Cup?

The first edition of the Melbourne Cup took place on Thursday 7th November 1861.

Who won the first Melbourne Cup?

Archer, a bay stallion, was the first horse to win the Melbourne Cup race back in 1861. He also went on to win the second Melbourne Cup the following year. His trainer was Etienne de Mestre.

What is the record winning time?

The record winning time at Melbourne Cup which still stands today was achieved in 1990 by Kingston Rule – 3:16.3. This famed Thoroughbred was sired by legendary Secretariat, the US Triple Crown Champion.

Has any horse won the Melbourne Cup more than once?

Five horses have won the trophy for this legendary horse race more than once. Makybe Diva has won it the most, with three consecutive wins, while four horses have managed to win the Melbourne Cup a second time. These are: Think Big, Rain Lover, Peter Pan and Archer.

What is the prize money for the winner of the race?

The total prize money was its highest in Melbourne Cup history in 2019 and 2020 at A$8 million and the estimated value of the trophies was $250,000. The winner received $4m, the runner-up $1m, the third $500k, etc (more information about Melbourne Cup prize money).

What are the race conditions?

The Melbourne Cup is run over 3,200 m and takes place on Flemington Racecourse in Victoria, Australia, which is 2,312 metres in circumference. The races are run in a counter-clockwise direction.

Learn more about the Melbourne Cup race

For more information you can also look at the following pages:

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