Use History to pick your Melbourne Cup Winner

Phar Lap

Phar Lap

Tips for Melbourne Cup

  • Barrier 11 is the luckiest barrier and barrier 18 is the unluckiest, no-one has ever won from barrier 18.
  • On average the favourite wins the Melbourne cup every five years. (This means that in the hundred and fifty three years of the race running there have been 31 favourites win.)
  • The last four winners Fiorente (2013 – Irish), Green Moon (2012 – Irish), Dunaden (2011 – French) and Americain(2010 – American) were imports.  (Dunaden and Americain were international visitors while Fiorente and Green Moon were Australian trained.)  The chance of a horse being international is high, as 19 out of 24 fall in this category.
  • Each of the horses are given a weight to carry based on their success. The most successful winning weight has been 54kg. Three horses carry that weight in the 2014, Precedence, Brambles and Mr O’Ceirin.
  • Precedence is also trained by Bart Cummings, who has been the most successful trainer, winning 12 cups since 1965.

I don’t bet on horse racing. But there is one day a year when I give it a go. We all like to get caught up in the excitement and yell at the television to urge our champion on.  It’s not just about the horse racing though, it’s getting dressed up and getting together with friends. Melbourne cup brings people together. The race stops the nation and gives us a truly Australian moment that we are all proud of.

The Melbourne cup has been run since 1861 and all of it’s statistics and facts are listed for all history. The race we watch every year is a little bit of history in the making. In 1861 on a Thursday (it’s now a Tuesday), 4000 people witnessed “Archer” win the first Melbourne cup. There were seventeen horses in the first race, one bolted before the race started, three fell and two died. The day itself was an eventful one, with news that Burke and Wills had perished. Many people were in mourning for the two explorers and this meant that numbers were less then expected.

Melbourne cup has many of it’s own interesting stories and legends. For instance, the first winner  ‘Archer’ is reputed to have walked 800 kilometres from his home to the Melbourne cup. However there are newspaper reports written about the arrival of the horse on a steam boat. The next legend is about the youngest jockey (Peter St Albans) to win the Melbourne cup in 1876 who was also reputed as the first Aboriginal jockey.  Jockey’s needed to be 13 to ride but Peter St Albans was a few days short. So to get around this his supporters argued that they did not know his exact birth date or who his parents were. This unidentified parentage and birth gave rise to him being the first Aboriginal jockey.  Peter St Albans was very successful winning the VRC Derby, the Melbourne cup and the VRC Oaks in a space of six days. The horse was Briseis and it won over a field of 33 horses which was the highest amount of horses to compete in the Melbourne cup.

Another legend is Phar Lap, who is ingrained in Melbourne cup history and loved by New Zealand (his country of birth) and Australians. However I was surprised to find the Phar Lap only won the Melbourne Cup once in 1930. His overall race history is impressive though as over his four years, he won 37 out of 51 races; in 1931 Phar lap won 14 races in a row and captured the public’s imagination.  However I think the most interesting fact was that ‘Phar Lap’ means lighting in Thai. Apparently a search reveals that a medical student by the name of Aubrey Moore Ping, named Phar Lap. The medical student was around the tracks and suggested the name to Tommy Woodcock, Phar Lap’s eventual trainer.  The initial ‘far lap’ was changed to Phar lap to give the name seven letters; the same amount of letters as the recent winners at the time.

Before 1993, the only foreign bought horses to have won Melbourne cup, have been domiciled in Australia. It was only horses from New Zealand, that would travel to win Melbourne cups and they won 40 of them. However in 1993, Irish horse Vintage Crop was flown to Australia and went on to win the Melbourne Cup. This has opened up the field of foreign trained horses substantially.  Foreign trained horses have had a good amount of success since with five British, four American, three Irish, one French and one Japanese horses to have won Melbourne cup. So although the Melbourne cup is trademarked as the race that stops a nation, I’m sure at times it’s stopped parts of New Zealand and I think in the future it may also stop many nations.

Enjoy Melbourne cup and all it’s celebrations. What is your favourite thing or memory from Melbourne cup?

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