The Melbourne Cup

identifying a front runner in horse racing

The Melbourne Cup

Melbourne Cup Infographic_1 (1)
Melbourne Cup Infographic

The Melbourne Cup is arguably Australia’s most important horse racing event, and of course, emanating from that is the rich history developed since the first-ever race took place, in 1861. The Melbourne Cup field is exclusively composed of thoroughbred racehorses, with only those with the finest ancestral lineage able to compete. This years’ Cup is just around the corner, on its customary first weekend of November date, this year falling on 3rd November. As such, we thought it is appropriate to reminisce some of the most memorable moments from throughout the years.

The 11-Year-Old that Changed History Forever

In 1876, an 11-year-old jockey named Peter St Albans rode the winner in the Melbourne Cup. This race was the largest Melbourne Cup field of all time, with 33 runners, a practice which has since been made impossible since the restriction of entries to a maximum of 22. Scandalously, it’s reported that St Albans had to lie about his age to be granted the opportunity to ride in the race. Reports from the time suggest different ages for him for this reason, it’s difficult to know his exact age to the day. Regardless, this is one hell of a record and one which won’t be beaten any time soon.

The reason as to why St Albans had a really lucky escape and was allowed to ride, is due to having the perfect weight of 39 kilograms. The filly he rode, named Briseis, had a previous owner named Tom Hales, who could not make the requirement of weight for the Melbourne Cup. For that reason, Hales gave permission for Peter Albans to ride the filly, due to Peter’s affinity with the horse in training. He was said to have rode an impressive session of work on the filly, and was subsequently given the nod to ride her in the big race!

With Hales’ blessing, Peter went on to beat Sybil and Timothy, the more favoured runners in the race, clocking a race time of 3.36.25 in the process. This win was hugely celebrated at the time and day of the race, and many had celebrated and cheered for Peter Albans miraculous win-especially the punters who actually had taken a bet and leap of faith in him.

Melbourne Cup and Caulfield Cup Double Winners

The Melbourne Cup is, of course, one of the most desired wins for any jockey out there. In addition to the Melbourne Cup, there are other events that share such high status in both the context of Australian racing and the wider horse racing world such as The Cox Plate and The Caulfield Cup. Not many horses have managed to win both the prestigious Melbourne and Caulfield Cups, with only 11 wins in historical records to date. The last double win was in 2001 by Ethereal, and the very first to win a double, was by the horse Poseidon.

For punters that want to bet on the Melbourne Cup, The Caulfield Cup can be a decent yardstick in terms of performance, as the event occurs in the month of October-only a few weeks away from the Melbourne Cup and is largely comparable in terms of conditions.

Widest Winning Margins of Melbourne Cup History

The widest winning margin that was ever to be recorded within Melbourne Cup history, was by 8 lengths. This has only occurred twice: in 1862 when legendary Melbourne Cup horse Archer hosed up and once again in an effort by Rain Lover in 1968. Occurring at almost a century apart, nobody has managed to beat this record to date-yet.

Bay Coloured Horses Have Brought Success

History would tell us that bay coloured horses in fact, have the most successful record within the history of the Melbourne Cup. Over the last 158 years during the Melbourne Cup tournament, the majority of winning horses have all been bay colour, winning a total of 69 times in total. Of course, this colour is one of the most common in horse breeds. If any superstition was as popular in the context of the Melbourne Cup, it would definitely have to be this one!

Example bay coloured horses of today include Constantinople, Mirage Dancer, Huntington Horn, Mer De Glace, The Chosen One and Raymond Tusk.

Melbourne Cup Barriers

Since the beginning of Melbourne Cup history, there have been barriers that have yielded more wins than others. The top barriers to date that have given a total of 8 wins are barriers 5 and 8. Barriers 1,4,6,11,14,17,19 and 22 have all given 7 wins in total, and are not far behind the best barriers 5 and 8. One barrier, however, that has had no luck in being the Melbourne Cup winning barrier, is number 18. For 84 years, not one win was made from number 18, which has very much created a superstition within the horse racing community for this barrier. Number 13 is also considered another unlucky draw, even though Ethereal, Baghdad Note and Phar Lap, have all won from that barrier!

Saddlecloth Numbers: The Best in the Business

The saddle cloth that is used to identify the horse within the race, has often got a number with varying different colours to represent the horse and its jockey. Within the history of the Melbourne Cup, numbers 4 and 12 have produced the most wins, in all the years this tournament has been running for, with a total of 11 wins each. The saddle cloth representing number 10, is very close behind with 10 wins in total and in third position, is the saddlecloth number 8, with 8 wins in total.

Melbourne Cup Jockey Weights: Facts and Figures

There are many stories to tell when it comes to discussing the weight of jockeys. The largest weight ever to be recorded and supported by a horse, was at 68 kilograms, from the Phar Lap horse in 1931. As can be expected, the horse, unfortunately, could not carry the jockey across to win at the finishing line. However, the heaviest recorded weight that actually did secure a win, was at 66 kilograms, by the Carbine in 1890. This still holds the record today as the heaviest weight to date, to manage a win and victory within the Melbourne Cup.

The lightest weight recorded that also brought a victory on the other hand, was at a small 33.5 kilograms, by the horse Banker in 1863. Weight is definitely a significant factor to consider when it comes to making a win at the Melbourne Cup, however, there is one weight that has shown to be the most popular and comfortable for a victory, and that is at 54.5 kilograms. Many riders nowadays tend to go for this option as the average weight as history supports this mass to be quite popular within all of the Melbourne Cup winning trends. In total 54.5 kilograms has brought 8 champions the spoils of victory for Melbourne.

Who Was the Most Successful Trainer?

Within Melbourne Cup history, there are many legendary riders that have gotten their names recorded within the history books. However, there is one trainer in particular that stands above the rest, with the most success. Bart Cummings managed to win 12 cups within his entire career. This puts him at an elite position, as he has 7 more cups then the closest rival within that list. His last victory and twelfth win, was in 2008 by the horse Viewed, a famous Australian Thoroughbred.

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