The Roar
The Roar


2013 Melbourne Cup: 10 Melbourne Cups to watch before the race

Flemington is host to the Vitoria Derby, the big Saturday race preceding the Melbourne Cup. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
4th November, 2013
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It’s easy to chat about how and why the Melbourne Cup is such a great race, but it’s even more exciting to see some of the great Cups to understand that inexplicable allure.

We’ve chosen 10 of the most exciting Melbourne Cups from the past 31 years to highlight what makes the Melbourne Cup such an exciting race.

Tell us your favourite Melbourne Cup memory in the comments below.

1982 – Gurner’s Lane nabs Kingston Town

Kingston Town is one of the greatest horses to have graced the turf, and was one of five horses (along with Phar Lap, Carbine, Bernborough and Tulloch) initially inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.

He won over all distances, from 1200m to 3200m, and was remarkably consistent. However, his only failure (and by failure, I mean his only run where he missed the top four) was in the 1981 Melbourne Cup, when he finished a distant 20th behind his stablemate Just A Dash.

A year later, fresh from winning his third Cox Plate, Kingston Town attempted to add the elusive Melbourne Cup to his record.

Jockey Malcolm Johnston gave him a good run in transit – but against every rule of riding the long Flemington straight, he took him to the lead at the 400m. Generally, the rule is to wait until the famous Flemington clock tower at the 150m mark before getting stuck into your horse.


With 100m to go, he looked like he was going to hold on, but Caulfield Cup winner Gurner’s Lane flew through along the inside to win.

1983 – Where did Kiwi come from?

Few Melbourne Cup victories can match the sheer amazement of Kiwi’s win in 1983.

I wasn’t even born in 1983, but in an era before Youtube, it was the one Melbourne Cup win that used to be referred to more than any other.

Youtube has now given us the ability to watch this race – and boy, what a win!

Under a youthful Jimmy Cassidy, who is still riding today – he rides Hawkspur on Tuesday – Kiwi was allowed to find his feet early and was back towards the tail in a fairly quick Melbourne Cup.

There were no doubts about Kiwi’s staying credentials, for he was a Wellington Cup winner. But at the top of the straight, it looked an impossible task.


Somehow, the horse that was used to round up sheep on trainer Snowy Lupton’s farm in New Zealand managed to do the impossible.

I recommend watching this race twice. First time around, keep your eyes on the leaders well into the straight. It’ll look like Kiwi joined in at the furlong post! Then keep your eyes on the back of the pack once they are in the straight, towards the inside.

You won’t believe how much ground he’s made up!

1985 – The first sponsored Melbourne Cup and the first called by Bruce McAvaney

In 1985, the Melbourne Cup went to another level with Foster’s sponsoring the Melbourne Cup for the first time, a partnership that would continue until 2000. This took prizemoney to $1m.

It was the first time legendary Australian broadcaster Bruce McAvaney called a Melbourne Cup and, as you’ll hear, he didn’t do a bad job at all.

For mine, his best call was his final Melbourne Cup call in 1988, with his enthusiastic call of Empire Rose’s game victory over Natski.


It is also notable as it is the first of three Melbourne Cups won by horses wearing the Lloyd Williams’ colours – the other two were Efficient and Green Moon.

Tomorrow, they will be worn by six horses, each with a different cap colour – Green Moon, Sea Moon, Masked Marvel, Fawkner, Mourayan and Seville.

The Cup that year was presented by Prince Charles and Princess Diana, with Prince Charles giving a not-so-subtle plug in declaring the Cup would be better served “gently foaming with Foster’s” – very deft!

When he presented the Cup again 27 years later, it would again be to Lloyd Williams!

1993 – The start of the international invasion with Vintage Crop

The significance of the 1993 Melbourne Cup cannot be understated, as I explained in an article earlier this year.

Everything that has happened in racing in the last five years, particularly the proliferation of imports, can be traced back to Vintage Crop’s fantastic success 20 years ago this year.


He entered the Melbourne Cup as the lesser-fancied of the two internationals, with Frankie Dettori’s mount Drum Taps expected to be competitive.

However, Irish eyes were smiling as Dermot Weld’s Vintage Crop charged home to beat two roughies in Te Akau Nick and Mercator.

1997 – Might and Power and Doriemus

Might and Power – one of the best names for a horse, in my opinion – came into the Melbourne Cup off one of the greatest Caulfield Cup wins you will see.

He was a hot favourite, especially once Kerry Packer unleashed, backing him to win $7m.

The free-running stayer bowled along in front, with various horses trying to apply pressure throughout the race – first Crying Game, then Linesman, with jockey Larry Cassidy throwing it to his brother Jimmy.

He shook them both off into the straight, but ominously looming down the outside was 1995 Melbourne Cup winner Doriemus.


He charged the last 100m as Might and Power finally hit a wall, but at the line, it was too close to call.

To the naked eye, it looked like Doriemus may have joined Archer, Peter Pan, Rain Lover and Think Big as a dual Melbourne Cup winner, and jockey Greg Hall raised his whip in salute.

But the photo gave it to Might and Power by the barest of margins.

2001 – Ethereal flies

I’ve included Ethereal in here because it was one of my favourite wins.

I didn’t back her – I think, being a young kid, I was on the favourite Sky Heights or the well-named Maythehorsebewithu – but Ethereal chasing down Give The Slip is racing at its finest.

At the top of the straight, Give The Slip did exactly that, getting away from his rivals to post a commanding break.

Just when he looked like he was going to give Godolphin their first Melbourne Cup win, Caulfield Cup winner Ethereal came out to the centre of the track and flew home to take the Melbourne Cup.

Third-placed Persian Punch was six lengths away, a huge performance after racing four and five deep the entire trip.

2002 – The sad tale of Damien Oliver

This is a story that has even been made into a movie, such is the drama.

For those unfamiliar with the tale, champion jockey Damien Oliver was booked to ride Media Puzzle for the Melbourne Cup after an arrogant win in the Geelong Cup.

But a few days before the race, Damien’s brother Jason – a jockey in Perth – had a terrible fall in a barrier trial and later died of his injuries in hospital.

After much consternation, Damien decided to honour his ride in the Melbourne Cup and, riding a wave of emotion, he gave Media Puzzle the perfect trip and won the Melbourne Cup easily.

The next day, he was back in Perth, burying his brother. Such a tragedy.

2005 – A champion becomes a legend

“Go and find the smallest child on this course, because they are the only one who will live long enough to see this again. We’ll never see it…” – Lee Freedman, Makybe Diva’s trainer.

He was right, too. The 2005 Melbourne Cup is a race which will be hard to top and remains one of the greatest sporting moments of all time.

Makybe Diva had won two Melbourne Cups, but 58kg was a lot to carry. Could she do it?

If you remember the dynamics of the day, you’ll remember the nervous anticipation right around the country. You’ll remember the crowd going berserk every time Greg Miles mentioned Makybe Diva’s name. And you’ll remember the deafening cheers as she came to the line.

That day, a champion did indeed become a legend.

2008 – Bart Cummings makes it 12

No personality in the history of the great race has had quite the influence of Bart Cummings. He’s had 87 Melbourne Cup runners for 12 winners – and on five occasions, he’s run the quinella!

All of these were thrilling in their own way, but I think his most recent victory would have been quite special.

Viewed went to the post at 40-1, after he ran last in the Mackinnon Stakes. Before that, he has been fairly good in the Caulfield Cup, but it was hard to gauge how he was going.

At the top of the straight, Blake Shinn kicked him away, but Geelong Cup winner Bauer emerged down the outside.

At the line, it was close – racecaller Greg Miles gave it to Viewed, but on closer inspection it was tight.

When Viewed was announced as the winner, they tore the grandstand down. Bart had made it 12.

2011 – The closest finish ever

Was it Dunaden? Was it Red Cadeaux? The two minutes of agony following the Melbourne Cup was something quite remarkable, really.

It was impossible to tell on the low angle vision, and when the photo went up, it was still too hard to tell.

But then they semaphored the number – Dunaden had won the Melbourne Cup.

For drama, it was special. Here the crowd groan as they watch the replay for the first time.

If anyone professed to know the result, they would have been lying.