Historic Melbourne Cup Moments


The Melbourne Cup has been running every year for more than a century and a half. During that time the great race has produced some of the most memorable moments in Australian and global racing history.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of those historic moments during the colourful history of Melbourne Cup racing.


Makybe Diva Achieves Legendary Status

There wouldn’t be many racegoers in the country who haven’t heard of the great Makybe Diva. No other racehorse in the country’s history has achieved the feat this champion mare produced in the early to mid-2000s.

In 2003, 2004 and again in 2005, Makybe Diva set a record that’s likely never to be matched when she won the coveted Melbourne Cup 3 years in succession.

No horse has ever won the race 3 times, let alone 3 years in a row.

Pundits believe we’ll never see that happen again, at least not in our lifetimes. It really is a rare event in horse racing of the highest calibre.

The mare is currently enjoying retirement and has been officially recognised as a legend in Australian horse racing by the Australian Racing Hall of Fame.


Phar Lap – The People’s Champion

When Phar Lap won the 1930 Melbourne Cup to the cheers of a frenzied crowd, the country was in the grip of The Great Depression.

In times of economic darkness and struggle, the people look for something positive to champion, and during the late 1920s and early 1930s, the focus of many in Australia was on Phar Lap, one of the most famous Melbourne Cup horses ever to win the great race.

Even while weighted down with a massive handicap of 62.5kgs, Phar Lap managed to outpace the competition to be first past the post to confirm his legendary status in the 1930 Cup race.

Just days before the race was to be run, Phar Lap was fired upon while training by a group of gangsters who wanted to keep the horse from running. Fortunately, the shots missed, Phar Lap was unharmed, then went on to achieve victory a few days later.

Sadly, Phar Lap died in mysterious circumstances in California just a few years later.


2015 Was Definitely a Very Historic Year

What was so special about the 2015 running of the Melbourne Cup that it will go down in history as one of the greatest moments ever to occur in the race that stops a nation?

For the first time ever the Melbourne Cup was won by a horse ridden by a female jockey.

When Michelle Payne rode a champion horse, Prince of Penzanze first past the post in 2015, she’ll forever be remembered as the inaugural woman jockey to win.

The interesting thing to note is that Prince of Penzance wasn’t given hope of winning by punters and bookies alike, starting the race with massive odds of 100 to 1.

Anyone who did back Michelle and the Prince on that day would have been all smiles for sure, with those odds leading to massive payouts for the winners.

After suffering a fall just a few years earlier that resulted in an injury so serious that she contemplated retirement, Michelle Payne bounced back in the grandest fashion possible.

Her victory certainly goes down as one of the most memorable in Melbourne Cup history.


The Race In 1948 Was Memorable for 2 Reasons

It was a long time ago, but at the time the Melbourne Cup had been running every year for almost 90 years. During all that time there had never been a photo finish, or a finish so close that it was almost impossible to determine the winning horse.

That all changed in 1948’s race, when a highly unfancied horse, Rimfire, made it home first by a mere inch.

Leading into the race the horse was in very poor form, was suffering from an injury and was saddled with a very inexperienced 16-year-old jockey. At odds of 80 to 1, Rimfire wasn’t offered a prayer of winning.

However, Rimfire would prove everyone wrong and defy the odds to go on and win the race in the most exciting and heart-stopping fashion possible.

  • Julie Sanders