Damian Lane rides Mer De Glace. (AAP Image/Vince Caligiuri)
Damian Lane rides Mer De Glace. (AAP Image/Vince Caligiuri)

29 fun facts about the Melbourne Cup

No international horse has won the Melbourne Cup twice and Frankie Dettori has not won the race at all.

But both Cross Counter, to be ridden by William Buick, and the flamboyant Dettori aboard Master Of Reality, will bid to rewrite the record books at Flemington on Tuesday.

And they won't be alone.

Vow And Declare, Surprise Baby and Youngstar are the patriotic favourites as the only horses with a local trainer, a local jockey and solely local form.

Along with another nine Australian-trained runners, the trio has the task to stop the flow of Melbourne Cup trophies overseas with five of the past nine winners, and the past two in succession, trained internationally.

As the defending titleholder, Cross Counter has to overcome a 6.5kg weight rise to become the first dual Cup winner from the northern hemisphere while Dettori must beat a Melbourne Cup hoodoo that spans more than 25 years.

Having ridden in Australia's most famous race 16 times, with his best results seconds aboard Central Park (1999) and Max Dynamite (2015), one of the world's most celebrated jockeys is desperate to add the Melbourne Cup to his resume.

"I know him well and I can tell you this race at this point of his career means more to him than any race in the world right now because it's probably one of the few things he hasn't been able to win," Nick Williams, part owner of Master Of Reality said.

Frankie Dettori. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Frankie Dettori. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Also trying to snare the Cup for the first time is Craig Williams on Vow And Declare after missing the winning ride on Dunaden in 2011 through suspension.

Vow And Declare's trainer Danny O'Brien says his charge is the quintessential Melbourne Cup horse and can keep the trophy in Australia.

"He is owned by an Australian, trained by an Australian and ridden by an Australian," O'Brien said. "Every part of him is Australian.

"It would be nice to turn the tide back a little bit on what's been going on for the last decade and show we've still got the ability to have a Melbourne Cup horse born, bred and trained in Australia."


FIRST run in 1861 under the banner of the Victorian Turf Club and won by the Etienne de Mestre-trained Archer who beat the favourite Mormon by six lengths. The prize was 1420 pounds and the trophy a gold watch.

ARCHER came back the following year to beat Mormon, this time by eight lengths, a record margin that still stands (it was equalled in 1968 by Rain Lover).

DE MESTRE would go on to train three other winners of the Melbourne Cup - Tim Whiffler (1867), Chester (1877) and Calamia (1878).

BART Cummings claimed the first of his 12 Melbourne Cups in 1965 with Light Fingers. The following year stablemate Galilee was the only horse to prevent Light Fingers making it back-to-back Cups and in 1967 Red Handed gave the legendary trainer his third straight victory.

CUMMINGS' other winners were Think Big (1974, 1975), Gold And Black (1977), Hyperno (1979), Kingston Rule (1990), Let's Elope (1991), Saintly (1996), Rogan Josh (1999) and Viewed (2008).

Racehorse trainer Bart Cummingsydney.
Racehorse trainer Bart Cummingsydney.

OTHER trainers to have multiple Cup wins include: 5 - Lee Freedman: Tawrrific (1989), Subzero (1992), Doriemus (1995), Makybe Diva (2004, 2005); 4 - John Tait: The Barb (1866), Glencoe (1868), The Pearl (1871), The Quack (1872); Richard Bradfield: Patron (1894), The Victory (1902), Night Watch (1918), Backwood (1924); James Scobie: Clean Sweep (1900), King Ingoda (1922), Bitalli (1923), Trivalve (1927); W S Hinkenbothem: Mentor (1888), Carbine (1890), Newhaven (1896), Blue Spec (1905).

IN 1972 the race was altered to the metric distance of 3200m, 18.7 metres or 61.5 feet short of two miles.

KINGSTON RULE holds the metric race record of 3:16.30.

THE YEAR 1985 marked the dawn of a new era for the Cup with prize money raised to $1 million. The owners of What A Nuisance received $650,000 and a $23,000 Cup.

THIS YEAR the race is worth $4.4 million to the winning owners.

FOUR-YEAR-OLDS (45) and five-year-olds (44) have the best record of any age group. Other age groups are three-year-old (23), six-year-old (32), seven-year-old (10) and eight-year-old (2).

THE OLDEST oldest horses to win the race were the eight-year-olds Toryboy (1865) and Catalogue (1938).

THE LAST three-year-old to win was Skipton (1941), who gave champion jockey Billy Cook his first Cup win. (Technically 2018 winner Cross Counter was three but considered four in the southern hemisphere).

THERE HAVE been no dead-heats for first in the race but Topical and Gaine Carrington dead-heated for third in Hall Mark's 1933 Cup and Lahar and Zazabelle also dead-heated for third in the 1999 Cup won by Rogan Josh.

BOBBY LEWIS and Harry White are the most successful jockeys. In 33 rides in the Cup Lewis saluted the judge four times with The Victory (1902), Patrobas (1915), Artilleryman (1919) and Trivalve in 1927. He was also runner-up four times and finished third on Phar Lap in 1929.

HARRY WHITE steered the Bart Cummings-trained Think Big to successive victories in 1974 and 1975. He was back in the winner's circle again with Arwon in 1978 and another Cummings' runner Hyperno in 1979.

Think Big ridden by jockey Harry White.
Think Big ridden by jockey Harry White.

THINK BIG failed to win a race between his two Melbourne Cup wins.

MAKYBE Diva is the only horse to win the Cup three times in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

PERHAPS the unluckiest of all Melbourne Cup runners was Shadow King who ran in six Cups between 1929 and 1935 finishing third to Phar Lap in 1930, second to White Nose in 1931, third to Peter Pan in 1932 and second again behind Hall Mark in 1933.

THE LONGEST-PRICED horses to win: Four horses have won at 100-1: The Pearl (1871), Wotan (1936), Old Rowley (1940) and PrinceOf Penzance (2015).

THE SHORTEST-PRICED are Archer 2-1 (1862), Tim Whiffler 5-2 (1867), Revenue 7-4 (1901), Phar Lap 8-11 (1930), Even Stevens 3-1 (1962), Let's Elope 3-1 (1991) and Makybe Diva at 5-2 in 2004.

MELBOURNE CUP winners to produce other Melbourne Cup winners: Grand Flaneur (1880) sired Bravo (1889) and Patron (1894); Malua (1884) sired Malvolio (1891); Comedy King (1910) sired Artilleryman (1919) and King Ingoda (1922); Spearfelt (1926) sired Dark Felt (1943); Marabou (1935) sired Skipton (1941); Silver Knight (1971) sired Black Knight (1984).

SURPRISE Baby is a son of 2009 winner Shocking.

HEAVIEST weights carried in the Cup: Winners - Carbine 10.5 (65.5kg), Archer 10.2 (64.5kg), Poitrel 10.0 (63.5kg), Redcraze 10.3 (65kg). Others: Rising Fast 10.0 (65.5kg) 2nd, Eurythmic 10.5 (65.5kg) broke down, Phar Lap 10.10 (68kg) in 1931 8th, Peter Pan 10.6 (66kg) in 1935 15th.

Vintage Crop winning the 1993 Melbourne Cup.
Vintage Crop winning the 1993 Melbourne Cup.

IN 1993, Vintage Crop became the first northern hemisphere-trained horse to win. The Irish stayer was trained by Dermot Weld and ridden by Mick Kinanne and is credited with putting the race on the world stage.

IN 2015, Michelle Payne became the first woman to ride the winner of the Melbourne Cup when she steered the Darren Weir-trained Prince Of Penzance to a famous victory.

CRAIG WILLIAMS and Damian Lane both need a Cup win to become the eighth jockey to complete the Grand Slam of Australian racing - Golden Slipper, Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup.

LANE, who rides Mer De Glace, can complete the grand slam in a calendar year after wins in the Golden Slipper (Kiamichi), Caulfield Cup (Mer De Glace), Cox Plate (Lys Gracieux). Williams rides Vow And Declare.

TRAINER Lee Freedman completed the big four in the same season, 1992/93 with Mannerism (Caulfield Cup), Super Impose (Cox Plate), Subzero (Melbourne Cup), Bint Marscay (Golden Slipper).