The Melbourne Cup is a race with no equal and it truly is one of the biggest events on the entire Australian sporting calendar.
Legends are made in the Melbourne Cup and the honour roll is littered with the biggest names in the history of Australian racing, with the likes of Archer, Grand Flaneur, Malua, Phar Lap, Peter Pan, Rising Fast, Light Fingers, Galilee, Let’s Elope, Saintly, Might And Power, Ethereal and Makybe Diva all saluting in ‘the race that stops a nation’.
It would take a much greater man to me to rank every single winner of the Melbourne Cup and we have instead decided to focus on the 11 most thrilling winners in the past 35 years of Australia’s biggest race.
1982 Melbourne Cup – Gurner’s Lane Upstages The King
The 1982 Melbourne Cup was all about equine superstar Kingston Town and whether he could add a Melbourne Cup to his resume after taking out his third Cox Plate just over a week earlier.
Kingston Town had failed to fire in the Melbourne Cup a year earlier and he had a massive weight on his back, but he was still able to hit the front at the 400 metre mark and he looked like the winner.
To the dismay of punters right around Australia, Gurner’s Lane was able to stick up on the inside to record one of the most unpopular wins in Melbourne Cup history, while debate still rages about why Malcolm Johnston went for home so early.
1983 Melbourne Cup – Kiwi Comes From The Tail
Jim Cassidy is set to retire from riding at the end of the week after an amazing career in the saddle, but he first shot to prominence when he took out the 1983 Melbourne Cup on Kiwi.
Cassidy gave Kiwi the coldest ride possible and the gelding at the tail of the field in the early stages of the race, with Kiwi 20 lengths behind the leaders with less than 800 metres left to run.
Kiwi tacked on to the field at the 600 metre mark and he picked off each and every one of his rivals in the straight before he swamped the leaders inside the last 100 metres to record a remarkable win.
1990 Melbourne Cup – Kingston Rules In Track Record Time
Kingston Rule may not be one of the most talented horses to have ever won the Melbourne Cup, but the well-bred thoroughbred still holds the Melbourne Cup track record in a time of 3:16.30.
Savage Toss took up the running in the early stages of the Melbourne Cup and made sure that the race was run at a genuine tempo, while Kingston Rule was settled in the first half of the field by jockey Darren Beadman.
Kingston Rule got up the inside and he hit the front with 200 metre left to run and he held off a fast-finishing The Phantom to give Beadman his first Melbourne Cup and Bart Cummings his eighth.
1993 Melbourne Cup – The International Onslaught Begins
The Melbourne Cup has been dominated by European stayers in recent years, but that all started in 1993 with Vintage Crop.
Vintage Crop came into the 1993 Melbourne Cup on the back of a win in the Irish St Leger and genius trainer Dermot Weld had the Irish stayer trained to the minute.
He stormed home in the final stages of the race to become the first international (outside of New Zealand) winner of the Melbourne Cup and he remains the only international horse to have won the Melbourne Cup without a lead-up run in Australia.
1996 Melbourne Cup – The Horse From Heaven Gives Bart His 10th
Saintly is now considered on of the greatest horses to win the Melbourne Cup, but in the lead-up to the 1996 edition of the race there were question marks over his ability to run out a strong 3200 metres.
Those concerns proved to be completely wrong as the Cox Plate winner cruised into the Melbourne Cup without even being asked for an effort by jockey Darren Beadman and no horse has ever had the Melbourne Cup won further from home.
Saintly cruised up to the leaders and stormed away when asked for an extra effort from Beadman to deliver Cummings an historic tenth victory in ‘the race that stops a nation’.
1997 Melbourne Cup – Might And Power And Doriemus In Epic Finish
Might And Power stamped himself as the most exciting stayer in Australian racing when he recorded a dominant victory in the 1997 Caulfield Cup, but he faced a tougher challenge over the 3200 metres of the Melbourne Cup.
Cassidy still elected to take Might And Power to the lead in the early stages of the Melbourne Cup and he had a number of his rivals off the whip coming around the turn before he kicked clear at the top of the straight.
Might And Power had a two lengths lead at the 200, but 1995 Melbourne Cup winner Doriemus jumped out of the ground in the final stages and was only narrowly denied his second Melbourne Cup win – although Greg Hall still thinks that he won!
2002 Melbourne Cup – Oliver Wins For Jason
There has never been a more emotional Melbourne Cup victory than that of Media Puzzle in the 2002 Melbourne Cup.
Media Puzzle stamped himself as a leading Melbourne Cup contender when he took out the Geelong Cup, but tragedy struck in the lead-up to the race when Damien Oliver’s brother was tragically killed in a race fall.
After a couple of days of contemplation, Oliver elected to take the ride on Media Puzzle and he gave the Irish stayer the perfect ride to win the Melbourne Cup for the second time, while another masterful training performance from Dermot Weld flew under the radar.
2005 Melbourne Cup – A Champion Becomes A Legend
Makybe Diva beat quality fields to win the 2003 and 2004 Melbourne Cup’s, but she saved her best performance in the race until last.
The Cox Plate was the major 2015 Spring Racing Carnival target for Makybe Diva and there was plenty of speculation that she would not chase a third straight win in the Melbourne Cup, but after a generous handicap from Racing Victoria and a promise to water the track – Lee Freedman elected to run the star mare.
Makybe Diva was given a beautiful ride from Glen Boss from a wide gate and she outstayed her rivals in the final stages of the race to stamp herself as the most successful horse in Melbourne Cup history.
2006 Melbourne Cup – Japan Dominate
Ireland had taken out the Melbourne Cup in 1993 and 2002, while England had gone close on a number of occasions, but it was Japan who stole the show in the 2006 edition of the Melbourne Cup.
Pop Rock and Delta Blues both produced strong Melbourne Cup trials in the Caulfield Cup, but punters latched on to Pop Rock, who was set to be ridden by Damien Oliver and ignored Delta Blues, who was partnered by Japanese hoop Yasunari Iwata.
The Japanese duo cleared well out from the rest of their rivals in the Melbourne Cup, but Delta Blues was too strong for Pop Rock and deliver Japan what was expected to be their first of many Melbourne Cup triumphs.
2011 Melbourne Cup – Dunaden Wins By A Pixel
There has been a number of thrilling finishes in Melbourne Cup history, but there was none closer than that in 2011.
Red Cadeaux looked like he was going to sweep past his rivals at the 150 metre mark, but Dunaden fought back in the concluding stages and they hit the line in tandem.
The judge took several minutes to analyse the photo finish, but eventually found a margin and awarded the victory to Dunaden, while connections of Red Cadeaux were forced to be satisfied with their first of three second place finishes in the Melbourne Cup.
2018 Melbourne Cup – Godolphin Finally Wins Our Greatest Race
Godolphin had tried and failed to win our great race on many occasions however they finally broke through with Cross Counter last year with the horse coming from near last to win the race.
It was Charlie Appleby and not Saeed Bin Suroor who trained the winner for Godolphin. Cross Counter is back on our shores for this year’s edition and is looking to become the first horse since Makybe Diva to win the Melbourne Cup in back to back years.