The Melbourne Cup
Group One Handicap Race over 3200 Metres
Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne
Raced on the First Tuesday in November
1890 Cup- Huge Field
The unmistakable baldy face of champion Carbine can be seen as he romps away with the 1890 Cup with 10st 5lb, behind that cloud of dust far left comes more of the massive field hopelessly outclassed.
The son of Musket was bred in New Zealand and after winning his first five races was purchased by Australian interests. His influence as a racehorse then a stallion would put Australia on the world map of thoroughbred racing. Carbine's victory in the 1890 Cup saw him lump 10 st 5 lb, a weight carrying record still today. He defeated 39 runners a record field for the Event and at the time the purse of 10,000 pounds made The Cup one of the worlds richest races. Carbine had ran second in the 1889 Cup despite carrying 10 st and having a split hoof that would continually plagued his career. A legend on and off the track he would in time go to England and sire three generations of English Derby winners.
Comedy King the first imported horse to win the Cup
Trafalgar was a perfect specimen of a horse and an Australian favourite that would eventually win 23 races. In the 1910 Cup he met Comedy King an imported English horse brought to Australia as a foal and a grandson of the great English horse St.Simon. During the race Comedy King always raced handy to the lead. Challenging the leaders on the turn Comedy King swept to the lead half way down the home straight. The import was going strong, but a roar from the crowd and a quick look from rider Bill McLachlan told him that Trafalgar was starting to make his challenge. Coming from the rear of the field Trafalgar stormed home out wide gathering in Comedy King. The King's record over Trafalgar was impeccable. In their 8 clashes Trafalgar would never pass him and so it was to be in the Cup. Comedy King staved off Trafalgar once again under the superb riding of McLachlan, to win by a half head. McLachlan enjoyed his second success in as many years, piloting the 3yo Prince Foote the previous season. Comedy King went on to be a great sire and his sons Artilleryman (1919) and King Ingoda (1922) would also win Cups.
Cup- Stirring Duel
The 1925 Cup featured a great field. If not for the fiasco with the great horse Heroic and the illness to 3yo Spearfelt who raced well below par, it could have been the race of the Century. Windbag, a 4yo stayer of the highest quality was primed for a Cup victory. Windbag was the favoured horse to win the race but he still had to overcome the enigmatic but brilliant 3yo, Manfred. A horse capable of world class performances when his mood allowed, Manfred was notorious for failing at the start of races. The race saw the good stayer Pilliewinkie engaged as well as many other quality horses. The race produced a stirring finish, with Manfred after leading most of the race trying desperately to hold off the relentless finish of Windbag. Grinding down his younger rival over the last 100 metres and with the Australian Cup winner Pilliewinkie fighting them doggedly to the line it was the New South Wales horse, Windbag, who was to prove to strong. The win by Windbag was in Australian and Race record time. Windbag didn't sire a Melbourne Cup winner (though he would sire Chatham a great miler). Manfred would sire The Trump (1937). Spearfelt who finished down the track in the 1925 Cup would win the Cup the following year, and would sire Dark Felt (1943). Heroic who never got to the Cup would sire the great Hall Mark (1933) and another great Australian thoroughbred Ajax.
King- Always the Bridesmaid
Shadow King dives too late too catch Hall Mark in the 1933 Cup
In a time of great racing and great horses, Shadow King stands out as one of the "unluckiest horses ever" to race in the Cup. Yet his efforts against three of the truly great horses of Australian racing makes him far from forgotten. He raced in the Melbourne Cup 6 times, for 2 seconds, 2 thirds, a fourth and a sixth. It started in the 1929 Cup when he finished sixth to Nightmarch with Phar Lap finishing third. In 1930 he ran third, resoundingly beaten by the then legendary Phar Lap who was unbeatable at this time. Then in 1931 he was unlucky not to beat White Nose. Hampered several times in the run the "Shadow" was charging to the line, but too late. In 1932 he ran into the awesome Peter Pan often compared to Phar Lap. Peter Pan a striking horse put in an amazing performance in the Cup after nearly falling 800m from home. Again it can be said the "Shadow" had a hard luck story to tell, weaving his way through horses only to just miss out at the finish, though the winner with luck would have won by a good margin. Probably his most unlucky run came in the 1933 Cup when only beaten inches in an exciting race which saw the great 3yo of that year Hall Mark take the prize only through his tremendous courage (as he hoof split open mid race). Again, Shadow King had a torrid run, striking interference at the top of the straight and then forced to come wide, he was actually in front yards past the finishing post such was his momentum. The following year 1934 he did not run, a bog track and the great Peter Pan, again, to the crowds delight took out the Cup that year. Now an aged horse he contested the 1935 Cup and finished a creditable fourth to Marabou. He had the honour of leading the field out that day in recognition of his efforts and an aging Peter Pan also engaged to race played second fiddle to the "old stager". He retired with his name firmly etched in Cup lore, by today's standards his placing's would earn him (approx.) $1.5 million.
E. de Mestre
Etienne de Mestre trained Archer in both of his Melbourne Cup victories in 1861 and 62. To prepare for his first victory Archer was said to have walked from Nowra to Melbourne, over 550 miles at approximately 27 miles a day...so the story goes (recent evidence proves otherwise). Naturally with that type of preparation he won easily! Etienne de Mestre also won the Cup with Tim Whiffler (1867), Chester (1877) and Calamia (1878). This makes him second only to the current day legend, Bart Cummings, as the the cups most successful trainer. Etienne's son is the famous Australian artist Roy de Maistre.
1948 Cup- Photo Finish?
Dark Marne the inside, Rimfire the outside, hit the line together in the Cup of 1948
The Stablemates fight it out in the 1965 Cup
Bart Cummings had two horses prepared for the 1965 Cup. Light Fingers a dour mare and the giant striding Ziema. Both trackworked together and through the lead up races to the Cup the stable found it hard to separate them and rated their prospects equally. Maybe leaning slightly to Ziema as Light Fingers had suffered a setback prior to the Caulfield Cup. The premier Victorian jockey of the time Roy Higgins stuck with his favourite Light Fingers, who he affectionately called "Mum". Higgins recalls how in trackwork that if Light Fingers could range up to the free striding Ziema and get her head within a a neck of him, that Ziema would have a look and seemed to "turn it up". In the race, at the 300 metre mark Ziema was running freely and seemingly with some reserve still in the tank. At the 200m point Light Fingers is under hard riding and is clawing at the ground some two lengths away and the only danger to Ziema. Higgins with total desperation in his riding is bit by bit getting to the big horse and getting to close the 100 metre mark Ziema can see ol "Mum" stretching her neck. Higgins sensing Ziema's hesitation pulls out all stops on the grand mare to nail Ziema right on the post, just like at trackwork! Light Fingers etched her name in Cup history with the a weight carrying record for a mare, up until that time. "Mum" would run in the Cup of 1966 with Higgins again in the saddle. This time she would encounter another stablemate and the greatest two miler of the decade in Galilee and accordingly, she ran a gallant second.
Cup- Sensational Late Scratching
"Bart Cummings and the Melbourne Cup" as you will see reading this brief Cup history, virtually have to always be mentioned in the same sentence. Even when not winning the race Bart still makes the headlines. In 1969 he had the Cup favourite Big Philou who had sensationally won the Caulfield Cup on protest after finishing behind Nausori. Prior to the Caulfield Cup Big Philou and had been backed "off the map" to take out the Caulfield - Melbourne Cup Double. Bookmakers looked to be ready for a massive payout. But, sensation as Big Philou is scratched only hours before the Cup when he was found distressed and scouring in his stall. Tests later show he had been hit with the drug Danthron making him incapable of competing. Who was responsible? no one knows. But rumours abound that some payouts were so large on the horse that livelihoods were at risk. The sensation allowed Rain Lover to lead most of the way and fight back after looking headed by Alsop to win narrowly. Rain Lover's win, his second Cup in succession, made him the first horse since Archer to win back to back Cups. Peter Pan's two victories were not back to back, being two years apart 1932 and 1934. Rain Lovers unexpected effort landed him into the record books and with the decent weight of 9 st 7 lb proved his great two mile ability.
What can be said about this trainer who really surpasses all criteria in ranking his performance in Australian Thoroughbred Horse Racing. The Cup in all respects is a Bart Cummings phenomenon. Where some trainer's struggle for years to even land a runner in the Great Race this trainer is very rarely without one or two contenders. The Honour Roll shows he has eleven Melbourne Cups under his belt as of Dec/2000. He has also taken the Cup quinella five times.
More to come.....stay tuned....meanwhile try this link BART CUMMINGS
Comic Court - 1950
And in the beginning!.......One of the most emphatic wins in cup history was to be ominous as far as the future of the Cup was concerned. Here Comic Court wins the 1950 Cup in a breeze. The horse trained by Jim Cummings father of the horse's strapper James B.Cummings, better known to us as Bart. The Cup would never be far way from the Cummings family again.
Lets Elope gives jockey Steven King his first Cup victory, for Bart its an amazing 9th.
Cup- The stuff dreams are made of !
Gala Supreme (blue cap) surges between the would be winners to take out a fairytale 1973 Melbourne Cup
Pedigree horse breeding, a premier trainer and a stable with a winning jockey is a great formula to win big races. But, its not a prerequisite. Sometimes the "battler", those quiet achievers that toil for years unknown suddenly burst upon us. The heartwarming smile of connections and the courteous modest manner in victory of jockey Frank Reys on Gala Supreme in 1973 was a poignant moment. And, reminded us all that racing is still about determination, preparation and a little luck. The last stride victory by the 4yo gelding when he poked his nose between Glengowan and Daneson gave a well deserved moment to a man, who had through race falls broken almost every bone in his body and at age 41 was considering retirement before winning the Cup. Reys presentation speech still lives in Cup legend, it really sums up why the Cup is an Australian phenomenon and how its reaches far further into the Australian spirit than just a race and a day off.
White- Think Big and you'll go places son.
Think Big scores from his more fancied stablemate in the 1974 Cup
Exactly one year later.......thats two in a row for Harry and the Bigfella.
The 1974 Cup held great hopes for fashionably owned mare and Caulfield Cup winner Leilani. Indeed, of his chances in the race trainer Bart Cummings thought that she was by far his best hope. Another of his stable Think Big was exactly that, a very large horse who only got striding when over a distance of 2400m or more. With jockey Harry White on board the 4yo gelding thought bigger than Leilani and ran away with the Cup by a length from the favoured stablemate. The following year 1975 with 58.5 kgs and winless since his '74 victory, Think Big at 33/1 got through the a soft track which he had always shown an aversion to win by 3/4 length from stablemate Holiday Wagon. Harry White had stuck with his mate again and two successive cup victories made him a well "booked" jockey. In 1978 a horse trained by George Hanlon stormed home with a well timed run to pip out Dandaleith. An omen for the win came in Archer. He had reportedly come from Nowra on his epic trek for the first ever Cup in 1861. The Cup winner Arwon a reverse of Nowra, gave Harry White a third cup win and he was now one off the Bobby Lewis record of four cup winners. The '79 Cup brought Harry and Bart Cummings together again. In another spine tingling finish Hyperno edged out Salamander and Red Nose to give Harry his fourth Cup. Chances to win other Cups after that came and went. With the Cups grin still on his face, Harry has now retired. The four Cup victories of Harry White and Bobby Lewis are what jockey's have to beat to be the "winningest" Cup jockey.
The great but ill fated Dulcify with Brent Thomson
The 1979 Cup saw a raging favourite in the exciting of horse of the era Dulcify. Sent out at 3/1 fav, his devastating win by 7 lengths in the weight for age Cox Plate against the nations best gallopers saw only bad luck defeating the great horse come the "big" race. Dulcify held a position close to the fence and was just worse than midfield as the race swept out of the straight to the back of the course. The horse was traveling easy for Brent Thomson. The jockey was waiting to make his move as the field bunched approaching the 600m. Behind him was the eventual winner Hyperno. Dulcify seemed to get into trouble about this point and as the field cornered and started to sprint towards the post he was clearly lame and in severe trouble. Brent Thomson dismounted the great horse which had to be held as the clerk of the course arrived. His injuries beyond hope he was later destroyed at the track and a great loss to Australian racing and to the horse's owners and the trainer Colin Hayes. Hayes would receive some console in the win of Beldale Ball the following year 1980.
Cup- Heartstopping Stuff
Gurners Lane gets through on the rail to defeat Kingston Town
There are very few Champions of the Australian turf. Only Carbine, Phar Lap, Tulloch and Kingston Town are normally mentioned in the same breath by racing purists. The 1982 saw the champion Kingston Town weighted with 59 kg and a warm 5/1 fav for the race. After taking out his 3rd consecutive Cox Plate 16 days before at Moonee Valley amongst scenes of jubilation, a large band of supporters and ever the confident trainer T.J.Smith gathered on Cup day awaiting for the "King" to avenge his 1981 Cup effort. On that occasion he finished a poor second last in the race taken out by his stablemate Just A Dash. The "King" had looked dull in the coat before the event. With Malcolm Johnston up riding in the '82 race, the "King" raced handily all race and approaching the 600m was traveling easily compared to the leaders. Maybe Johnston sensed trouble, but as they cornered at the 450m mark the "King" was out 5 to 6 horses wide and on straightening Johnston "sooled" him to the lead and with his normal acceleration dashed 2 lengths on his rivals. Still at the 200m the "King" with his 59 kgs held a good margin. The Caulfield Cup winner Gurner's Lane by champion sire Sir Tristam was now at this time bursting a path along the rails. Jockey L."Mick" Dittman showing his legendary vigour, his jockey cap flapping in the wind after nearly knocking Ron Quinton on Port Carling through the running rail at 200 metre marker, sent Gurner's Lane out after the "King". The weight and the early effort at the top of the straight were taking its toll and Johnston riding desperately on Kingston Town couldn't stave off Gurners Lane's late burst along the inside rail. The Caulfield Cup winner collared the "King" in the shadows of the post to win by a 1/2 head. Many in the crowd had still thought the champ had held on. Knives were out for jockey Johnston. In his defence he had often ridden the "King" in that manner and kept him out of trouble with success in the past. For trainer George Murphy and jockey Dittman the victory was hard fought. Murphy retired some years later without real further glory and Dittman was suspended for his ride. Dittman, ironically, became the stable jockey for T.J.Smith and was very successful for the stable.
Cup- Kiwi Comes from Last
The sensational finishing burst of Kiwi saw him career away from the field on the line.
Just like the 1937 and 1973 Cups there are some great stories that come from horses and their connections that win the Cup. The '83 cup will be remembered for the "last to first" victory by the New Zealand horse Kiwi, the incredible ride by the young Jim Cassidy and the training feat by "Snowy" Lupton. The horse having not run in the month leading up to the Cup had an unusual preparation and this made the horse an unknown quantity with bookmakers. The trainer had kept the horse fit and had devised a program of training around mustering sheep on his property in New Zealand, the kind of story that invokes the colonial spirit. Kept honest in the betting at only 10/1 considering no run in the month prior to the race, Kiwi always raced a conspicuous last. Even by the 600m mark he still sat at the tail of the field. Chiamare led the field clearly down to the 300m but was quickly over hauled by Noble Comment and Mr.Jazz, now, seen weaving and zigzagging his way closer to the rails is Kiwi taking huge strides in the classic style of stayers. He swishes his tail as they approach the 150m and Cassidy has piloted his way through the pack and now pulls him wider on the track. In just five bounds Kiwi "swamps" the two leaders to win racing away from the field. The crowd in stunned silence, witness probably one of the most amazing wins of modern times.
The Irish visitor Vintage Crop gives the locals a galloping lesson.
The win of Vintage Crop in 1993 saw the Cup taken out by a horse brought here from Ireland with one purpose, to win our Cup. Trained by Dermott Weld the horse had lost 16 kgs in traveling here and had no lead up events. Another more favoured English horse Drum Taps was the talk of the media. With little known about Vintage Crop and with rain affecting the track he was sent out 16/1. Traveling just better than midfield jockey Kinane made his move from the famous 600m mark. With the big field fanning on the corner and some horses not handling the conditions, plenty of space opened up for the Irish horse to really move into the race at the 300 metre mark. Reaching the lead 150 metres out he ran away from the Gai Waterhouse trained Te Akau Nick to win by 3 lengths. The training feat of Dermott Weld can not be underestimated and the horse's victory was the first sign that our prize money was now attracting some of the best horses in the world. The time had come for Australians to be prepared for more foreign victories in our big races. Vintage Crop's subsequent 3rd in the 1996 Cup was sensational considering the trouble in running and proved that 1993 was no one hit wonder in ability.
Never to Old to Boogie
The Lee Freedman trained Doriemus
The trainer Lee Freeman has had many good horses including the great Super Impose, Mahogany, Naturalism, Cup winners Tawriffic (1989) and Subzero (1992), but I am sure that as far as the Cup is concerned he would consider his seasoned imported stayer Doriemus a stand out modern day marvel. His victory at age 6 in 1995 over the lightly weighted 3yo VRC Derby winner Nothin Leica Dane was an emphatic victory. His ongoing performances at wfa and in other major races including the Caulfield Cup put him in an elite group. Then in the 1997 Cup against the great Might and Power and at the age of 8, he almost stole the show and many thought he had won the race for the second time including jockey Greg Hall. The photo proved otherwise. With a string of Group One wins, the late bloomer to Australian racing showed that age statistics can be broken and your never to old to boogie with the best.
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