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Celebrating the Melbourne Cup | Quick facts

As we all get ready for one of the biggest racing events in the world - the Melbourne Cup - we've pulled together some facts and interesting tidbits about 'the race that stops the nation'.

Crowds at Flemington Racecourse
Victoria Racing Club is preparing to welcome 10,000 fully-vaccinated racegoers on Melbourne Cup Day this year

The Melbourne Cup originated in 1861 and was first won by a horse called Archer. The prize money consisted of 710 gold sovereigns and a hand beaten gold watch. In comparison, the prize money of the 2021 Melbourne Cup is $8 Million AUD plus trophies valued at $250,000 AUD.

Archer Melbourne Cup
ARCHER (1856) was the first thoroughbred to win the Melbourne Cup in 1861. He then went on to win it again in 1862.

There have been six grey Melbourne Cup winners over the years, most famously Subzero (1992).

In 2015, Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. She won the race aboard Prince of Penzance.

  • To read more about women and the big race, including this duo, click here

Though the current Melbourne Cup field is now 24 runners, the 1890 running had a whopping 39 horses and in 1863 the Cup had just seven horses. 17 horses raced in the first Melbourne Cup in 1861.

Peter St Albans and three-year-filly, Briseis

The youngest jockey to ever win the Melbourne Cup was Peter St Albans who was 11 (eight days short of his 12th birthday). The official age required was 13 years of age, which is the age that was recorded for Peter when he rode three-year-old filly, Briseis, to victory in 1876.

Makybe Diva won the race in years 2003, 2004 and 2005 - making her the only horse to win three Melbourne Cups. She is also the only mare to win the race more than once.

From its first running in 1861 to the 1874 meeting, the Melbourne Cup was run on a Thursday. In 1875 it was moved to the second Tuesday of the month and has been run this way every year since 1875 (except for during the Second World War, when it was run on Saturdays).

The Melbourne Cup 'king', the late Bart Cummings

Trainer Bart Cummings holds the record for the most Melbourne Cup wins and his horses have won a record 12 times.

Since 1924 no contender has won the Melbourne Cup from barrier 18.


The fastest horse to ever win the Melbourne Cup is Kingston Rule in 1990 with a victorious time of 3:16.3.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival's famed ‘Fashions on the Field’ competition was first held in 1962.

Racewear competition
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing's ambassador, Carena West, pictured here after taking out the 2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival's Fashions on the Field competition.

The closest race finish of the Melbourne Cup was in 2011 between Dunaden and Red Cadeaux. The second-favourite, Dunaden, took out the race by a milimetre.


Watch the heart-stopping photo-finish below:

While we're no longer racing on 2 November here at Ellerslie, we've still got a lot of great Melbourne Cup content to come as Australasia leads up to the "great race".



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