Melbourne Cup Trainers: Who to Watch

Last Updated 7 Apr 2021 | Commercial content | 18+

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Melbourne Cup trainers are often in the background of their star horses, but they are an essential part of every race. Behind every successful Melbourne cup horse are years of training with an equally successful trainer. For any horse to be successful and reach their full potential, there needs to be guidance. That is why we will take a look at some of the notable Melbourne Cup trainers in 2021.

Operator Trainer Horse Visit now
Aidan O’Brien TIGER MOTH
ladbrokes logo Ciaron Maher & David Eustace SIR DRAGONET
Danny O’Brien RUSSIAN CAMELOT Coming soon >>

You should have in mind that the horse list can change before the race.

Charlie Appleby

If there is one trainer to watch this year, it’s Charlie Appleby. Appleby has won the last year’s Melbourne Cup with this year’s favourite Cross Counter. If Cross Counter manages to win again, it will be the first back to back victory since Makybe Diva’s historic three-win run 2003-2005. But even if Cross Counter doesn’t succeed, Appleby still has another three of his Melbourne Cup horses among the favourites this year: Ispolini, Ghaiyyath and Ghostwatch.

In his prolific career, Charlie Appleby has recorded over 600 wins, which makes him one of the most successful Melbourne Cup trainers. In 2018 he has won his third International Trainer of the Year award. Some of his major wins include the Epson Derby with Masar (2018), Middle Park Stakes with Charming Thought (2014), Nassau Stakes with Wild Illusion (2018), Prix de l’Opéra with Wild Illusion (2018), Sydney Cup with Polarisation (2017), and Natalma Stakes with La Pelosa (2018) to name a few.

Joseph O’Brien

A rising star of the horse race training world, Ireland’s Joseph O’Brien is well on his way to becoming one of the most successful trainers. Having retired from his successful jockey career in 2016 to focus on training, at 26, he has already made some major wins. The crown jewel being his historic 2017 Melbourne Cup win with Rekindling. The win has made him the youngest among Melbourne Cup trainers to have ever won at Flemington Park.

His other major wins as a trainer include the Irish Derby with Latrobe (2018), Moyglare Stud Stakes with Intricately (2016), Irish Gold Cup with Edwulf (2018), Racing Post Novice Chase with Le Richebourg (2018) and Fillies’ Mile with Iridessa (2018). It is safe to say that there is a bright future ahead of him, and we are excited to be along for the ride. It remains to be seen if he will manage to train one or more winning Melbourne Cup horses.

Robert Hickmott

A former Melbourne AFL player, Robert Hickmott has had a very successful racehorse training career. So far, he has had two impressive Melbourne Cup victories, which already makes him one of the more successful Melbourne Cup trainers. The first win was in 2012 with Green Moon, who then moved on to also win the Turnbull Stakes. The second horse trained by Hickmott, Almandin, won the Melbourne Cup in 2016. Earlier in his racehorse training career, Hickmott was heavily involved in training Efficient, who ended up winning the 2007 Melbourne Cup. However, officially, the Efficient was trained by Graeme Rogerson.

This year, Hickmott-trained Schabau was one of the top Melbourne Cup Horses predicted to win the race. Unfortunately, due to a disappointing tendon injury, Schabau will miss the spring season and return in winter 2020. However, Hickmott has already proved he can successfully deal with injuries, after successfully overcoming Almandin’s injury that has kept him off the racecourse for two years, before winning the 2016 Melbourne Cup.

Lee Freedman

A true legend among Melbourne Cup trainers and a Hall of Fame inductee, David Lee Freedman has won the cup a staggering five times. He is the trainer responsible for two of the three wins in Makybe Diva’s incredible streak. Freedman’s 1989 Melbourne Cup win with Tawrrific marked a significant point in his career, making the 90s his most prolific decade.

During the 90s Freedman has trained a number of very successful horses, including the 1992 Melbourne Cup winner Subzero, as well as Doriemus, who won both the Caufield Cup and Melbourne Cup in 1995.

In 2004, Freedman took over the Makybe Diva from David Hall and turned into his greatest training achievement. Under Freedman, the former Melbourne Cup winner, Makybe Diva managed another two times, for a total of three consecutive Melbourne Cup wins. The wins were unprecedented in the tournament’s 150 long histories and made “The Diva” one of the most successful Melbourne Cup horses. They also made Freedman one of the most successful Melbourne Cup trainers. Following a gradual decline in success, Lee Freedman ultimately retired from training in 2011. However, in November 2014, he announced his return to training and continues to successfully train horses to date.


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