The Melbourne Cup is the most loved and anticipated horse race in Australasia.

While other prestigious racing events also take place throughout the racing season, the Melbourne Cup attracts the attention of the public like no other.  Here are a number of interesting statistics, facts, and trivia help to define this race, truly making it “the race that stops two nations.”

Historic Melbourne Cup Facts

  • The first ever Melbourne Cup took place in 1861, after the Victoria Turf Club started running Melbourne racing in place of smaller clubs.
  • The first ever winner of the Melbourne Cup was Archer, who won 170 pounds and a gold watch.  Legend has it the stallion had to walk over 500 miles from Terara near New South Wales to participate in the race.
  • In 1877, Melbourne Cup day was declared a whole day holiday, with patrons crowding the Flemington race course.  This helped to give this race the reputation as “the race that stops a nation.”
  • The Melbourne Cup is held over a distance of 3200 metres, and takes place on the first Tuesday of November every year.
  • The fastest winning time for the Melbourne Cup was recorded by Kingston Rule in 1990, crossing the line at 3:16.3.
  • Bart Cummings has experienced the most wins as a trainer, with 12 victories in 1965, 1966, 1967, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1999 and 2008.
  • Michelle Payne is the only female jockey to have won the Melbourne Cup (2015).
  • Makybe Diva is the most successful horse, winning the race three years in a row between 2003 and 2005.
  • The Melbourne Cup did not originally allow women to compete, with Maree Lyndon becoming the first female to do so with horse Argonaut Style in 1987.  Unfortunately, she came second last on the day.
  • The first woman to formally train a Melbourne Cup winner was Sheila Laxon, who won with New Zealand mare Ethereal in 2001.
  • The largest ever attendance for the Melbourne Cup was in 2003, when more than 122,737 people attended to watch Makybe Diva win her first of three Melbourne Cups.
  • 35 out of 150 favourites have won the Melbourne Cup, which is 23 percent.  71 favourites have finished in the first three placings, which is 47 percent.
  •  The smallest number of starters for the Melbourne Cup was in 1863 with just 7 horses, with the largest field of 39 horses run in 1890.
  •  The 11 winners of the Melbourne Cup/Caulfield Cup double are Poseidon in 1906, The Trump 1937, Rivette in 1939, Rising Fast in 1954, Even Stevens in 1962, Galilee in 1966, Gurner’s Lane in 1982, Let’s Elope in 1991, Doriemus in 1995, Might and Power in 1997, and Ethereal in 2001.