Spring milestone moments

BY JOE McGRATH

Now that spring racing has commenced, we remember some of the finest moments in the recent history of the Melbourne Cup Carnival to whet your appetite for what’s to come...

2005: Makybe Diva’s third Cup win 

Carrying more than just the weight of her allotted 58kg, Makybe Diva’s third Cup victory in the 2005 Melbourne Cup was one for the ages. Never in the history of the Melbourne Cup had a horse won the Cup on three occasions. Archer (1861, 1862); Peter Pan (1932, 1934); Rain Lover (1968, 1969) and Think Big (1974, 1975) were the only dual winners of the Cup sitting alongside Makybe Diva. 
Five-time Melbourne Cup-winning trainer Lee Freedman would famously say upon securing the momentous win: “Go and find the smallest child on this course, because that will be the only person likely to live long enough to see something like this (three Cup wins in a row) again.”

2008: First female wins the Victoria Derby

Leon McDonald and Clare Lindop had long been a winning combination in South Australia, so securing the 2008 Victoria Derby (G1) was just an extension of an already successful partnership. But smashing the glass ceiling in racing has not always been easy, and when Lindop secured the coveted Group 1 she etched her name in history as the first female to win the oldest classic in the country. First run in 1855, the Derby is the flagship for the first day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and a true staying test for a quality three-year-old. Rebel Raider was no slouch coming into the race but jumped at odds of 100/1 on the day. This did not deter connections as they knew the son of Reset could stay. It marked an important milestone for female success in feature races at Flemington. 

2008: Bart Cummings trains his 12th Cup winner

When it comes to the first Tuesday in November, there is one name you can never rule out – Cummings. Especially if the first name is Bart. No single individual has had such an influence on Australia's greatest horse race, having trained a total of 12 Melbourne Cup winners including part-owning and breeding Saintly to win in 1996. So despite Viewed having finished last (11th beaten by 6.75 lengths ) in the LKS Mackinnon Stakes (G1) the Saturday before, you would have been a brave assessor to rule out a horse trained by Cummings. Especially in a Melbourne Cup. 

Unlike the Saturday previous, Viewed was allowed to race on the outside of horses in the Cup and seemed a lot happier in the run. Fighting out the finish it was a mere bob of the head that separated Viewed and a grey horse called Bauer trained by the unlucky Luca Cumani. Cummings, who etched his name long ago as the Cups King, was as sharp as ever when asked what he thought about winning his 12th Melbourne Cup: ‘I hope it’s a baker’s dozen!’, he quipped. The Cup was the first victory for former Victorian jockey Blake Shinn, and the fourth for owner Dato Tan Chin Nam, who also secured Cup victories with Think Big (1974-75) and Saintly (1996), all trained by Cummings.

2013: Gai Waterhouse wins elusive Melbourne Cup

For Gai Waterhouse, there weren’t too many more boxes to tick in racing, but winning the Melbourne Cup was one of them. Denied victory in the 1993 (Te Akau Nick), 1995 (Nothin’ Leica Dane) and 2012 (Fiorente) Melbourne Cups, Gai saddled up her best chance in 2013 with Fiorente. Runner-up the previous year at 100/1, Gai entrusted champion rider Damien Oliver with the ride. 

As Gai has alluded, having the favourite is one thing, winning the Cup is another. After the First Lady of Racing was successful in the Cup, she proceeded to go on a tour with her own Cup miniature across the racing communities of NSW. 

She is a worthy recipient of the Cup and joins her father Tommy who trained the Cup winners of 1955 (Toparoa) and 1981 (Just A Dash). It was Damien Oliver’s third victory in the race having previously won on Doriemus (1995) and Media Puzzle (2002). 

2015: Michelle Payne secures Cup win at 100/1 

Assessing the 2015 Melbourne Cup (G1) form, one could be forgiven if you skipped over the rank outsider in Prince of Penzance. Trained by Darren Weir and ridden by Michelle Payne, he was not in the tipsters’ top selections, but for Michelle Payne he wasn’t the worst. In fact Payne and ‘the Prince’ had formed quite a bond over the months leading into the race and despite some alternative views, Michelle retained the ride. A pole position draw (barrier one) was certainly desirable as was the pattern for racing and a perfect run throughout had the unlikely challenger, looming to the front at the top of the straight. 

The rider who had stated as a young girl, ‘All I want to do is win the Melbourne Cup.’, was only metres from making a dream become reality. As they crossed the line it brought punters to look down the page and do a double take on the colours to see who the winner was. Even Michelle’s sisters would all look at each and say, ‘Michelle has won it!’, half in excitement and half in amazement. Of course two of Michelle’s brothers-in-law, Brett Prebble and Kerrin McEvoy, both Cup winners in their own right, were also competing in the race. The fairytale story was enough for Rachel Griffiths and Richard Keddie to bring to life Ride Like a Girl, an award-winning film that appealed to a broad cross-section of the community.

The victory would prove the fourth 100/1 winner of the Melbourne Cup. Others were The Pearl (1861), Wotan (1936) and Old Rowley (1940).

2019: Oliver records most wins at Melbourne Cup Carnival ever 

Damien Oliver wrote his name into the history books at Flemington becoming the most successful jockey to have ridden at the Melbourne Cup Carnival. With victories in all of Australia’s feature races including three Melbourne Cups, it was only a matter of time before the Australian Racing Hall of Famer set another unique record, breaking the one shared with legendary four-time Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Bobbie Lewis. Riding Miami Bound in the Wakeful Stakes, Oliver took his tally to 73 race wins at the Melbourne Cup Carnival. He would add to that success with victory later in the day in the feature race, the Victoria Derby (G1) aboard Warning. Oliver accumulated a further three wins for the week, including victory in the Kennedy Oaks (G1) aboard Miami Bound. His Melbourne Cup Carnival grand tally sits at 77 wins.