Finding the Melbourne Cup winner by facts and figures

Tuesday’s 163rd running of the Melbourne Cup will see 24 finely tuned equine athletes line up for the race which stops the nation – it’s no ordinary event.

And finding the winner is no ordinary feat, however history gives us some decent insights into what to look for.

MELBOURNE CUP FACTS

The first Melbourne Cup in 1861 was run on a Thursday, November 7 and it was first run on a Tuesday in 1875.

The race has been postponed twice, both times due to rain, in 1870 and again in 1916.

During the War years – 1942 to 1944, the race was run on a Saturday, the second day of a two-day Cup carnival.

Multiple Melbourne Cup winners

Champion mare Makybe Diva is the only horse to have won three Melbourne Cups (2003, 2004, 2005).

Four horses have won the race twice – Archer (1861, 1862), Peter Pan (1932, 1934) Rain Lover (1968, 1969) and Think Big (1974, 1975).

Caulfield Cup – Melbourne Cup winners

There have been 11 winners of the big Cups double but only one this century, Ethereal in 2001. The others were Poseidon (1906), The Trump (1937), Rivette (1939), Rising Fast (1954), Even Stevens (1962), Galilee (1966), Gurner’s Lane (1982), Let’s Elope (1991), Doriemus (1995) and Might And Power (1997).

Most Melbourne Cup Wins – Trainer

The ‘Cups King’ Bart Cummings prepared an incredible 12 Melbourne Cup winners (1965, 1966, 1967, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1999, 2008)

Current trainers with multiple winners, with 2 each are Joseph O‘Brien (2017 and 2020) and Robert Hickmott (2012 and 2016).

Current winning trainers – Mike Moroney (2000), Gai Waterhouse (2013), Danny O’Brien (2019), Chris Waller (2021) and Ciaron Maher (2022) have won the Melbourne Cup once.

Most Melbourne Cup Wins – Jockey

Bobbie Lewis (1902, 1915, 1919, 1927) and Harry White (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979) hold the record with four wins each.

Current riders – 3 wins for Kerrin McEvoy (2000, 2016, 2018) and Damien Oliver (1995, 2002, 2013). Blake Shinn (2008), Brett Prebble (2012), Craig Williams (2019), Jye McNeil (2020), James McDonald (2021) and Mark Zahra (2022) have won the race once.

Most Melbourne Cup Wins – Owner

Lloyd Williams has won the Melbourne Cup on seven occasions (1981, 1985, 2007, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2020)

Melbourne Cup Female Jockey Facts

Michelle Payne is the only female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup aboard Prince Of Penzance in 2015.

Of current female jockeys Jamie Kah has ridden in the Melbourne Cup three times, finishing third on Prince Of Arran in 2020 and was seventh on Smokin’ Romans last year while Rachel King has ridden in the past two Cups and finished 11th on Arapaho last year.

Maree Lyndon was the first female to ride in the Melbourne Cup aboard unplaced Argonaut Style in 1987.

The first Australian female jockey to ride in the Melbourne Cup was Claire Lindop aboard the unplaced Debben in 2003.

Melbourne Cup Barrier Statistics

Barrier 11 has been the most successful gate producing eight winners; most recently launching Americain to victory in 2010. Barrier 5 has won the race on seven occasions.

The last time the same Melbourne Cup barrier produced back-to-back winners was in 2012 and 2013 when Green Moon and Fiorente won from barrier 5.

Gold Trip’s winning barrier last year was 14.

The last Melbourne Cup winner to salute from the outside barrier was Brew (2000).

Barrier 18 produced its first winner in 2021 when Verry Elleegant won the race.

Barriers 7 and 15 have also only produced one Melbourne Cup winner.

Since 1982 – barriers 6, 7, 12, 15 and 24 have not produced a Melbourne Cup winner.

Melbourne Cup Saddlecloth Statistics

Number 4 is the most successful Melbourne Cup saddlecloth boasting 12 wins after Verry Elleegant carried that number to victory in 2021.

Number 12 has produced 11 winners, Makybe Diva the last in 2003 while Number 1 has 11 wins and Number 6 has won the race nine times – Twilight Payment carried No. 6 to victory in 2020.

Gold Trip in 2022 was the last horse to carry the No. 1 saddlecloth. The previous topweight to win the race was Makybe Diva in 2005.

The unluckiest Melbourne Cup saddlecloth is No. 18 – last carried to victory by Peter Pan in 1932.

Melbourne Cup Winner Stats – Age

Four and five-year-old horses have the best record in the Melbourne Cup. 4YOs have won 46 times and 5YOs have won 45 times.

Recent times have distorted the age history of the Melbourne Cup due to the Northern Hemisphere-bred runners having their age rounded up when racing in Australia.

Rekindling and Cross Counter won the race in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Both were Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds at the time but in racing records it shows them as being four-year-olds when they won the Melbourne Cup.

Only three eight-year-olds have won the Melbourne Cup: Catalogue (1938), Toryboy (1865) and Twilight Payment (2020) who won as a European 7YO racing as an 8YO in Australia.

Six-year-olds have performed well in the race in recent years winning three of the past 10 renewals, including 2021 when Verry Elleegant was successful.

Melbourne Cup Winner Stats – Sex

Stallions (entires) hold the record with 73 wins in the race.

Geldings have won the race on 54 occasions.

Just 14 mares in total, 12 individuals, have won the Melbourne Cup – Verry Elleegant was the last mare to win the race in 2021 while Makybe Diva is the most famous, winning the race in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Winning horse colours

The colour bay is a clear standout having produced 72 Melbourne Cup winners, including Gold Trip, almost double the next best, brown horses have won 38 times.

Chestnuts have won 35 Melbourne Cups, greys have saluted six times while black horses have claimed five victories.

Words in Melbourne Cup winners name

One-word names have won the most Melbourne Cups with Rekindling in 2017 the last of 88 winners.

Sixty-three horses have won the race with two-word names including last year’s winner Gold Trip while only seven winners have had three-word names, Vow And Declare the last in 2019.

Melbourne Cup Weight Facts

The most successful Melbourne Cup winning weights since 2000 have been 51 to 51.5kg, 52 to 52.5kg and 54 to 54.5kg. Each weight bracket has won four Melbourne Cups since 2000.

55 to 55.5kg and 56 to 56.5kg have won three Melbourne Cups each since 2000.

Heaviest weight carried to victory since 2000 was Makybe Diva in 2005. She carried 58kg to victory that year while Gold Trip won the race last year carrying 57.5kg.

The lightest weight carried to victory since 2000 was Brew in 2000. He carried just 49kg.

Origin of Melbourne Cup winners since 2000

Since 2000, 15 Melbourne Cup winners have been bred to Northern Hemisphere time and eight are Southern Hemisphere bred.

Breaking the last 21 winners down further – Five were UK bred, five New Zealand bred, three Australian and three Irish bred, two were French bred, two US and two German bred. The other was Japanese bred.

Fourteen of the past 21 winners were trained in Australia, eight were trained in the Northern Hemisphere (four in Ireland, two in France, one in the UK, Germany and Japan) and the other Melbourne Cup winner in the past 21 years was trained in New Zealand.

Melbourne Cup Winning Colours

White is the most successful Melbourne Cup colour, in the silks of 75 winning jockeys.

Blue has been in the colours of 61 Melbourne Cup winners, narrowly ahead of black with 58 wins.

Red has returned to the winner’s stall on 48 occasions, yellow or gold 45 times, with green winning 23 Melbourne Cups.

Winning Melbourne Cup times

Kingston Rule holds the record for the fastest win in a Melbourne Cup when stopping the clock at 3.16.30 in 1990.

In recent years three horses have broken into the 3.17s – Protectionist (3.17.71 – 2014), Twilight Payment (3.17.34 – 2020) and Verry Elleegant (3.17.43 – 2021).

The slowest time recorded since the introduction of barrier stalls was Van Der Hum in 1974 when the Cup was run in horrendous wet conditions. The Kiwi clocked 3.34.10.

The slowest winning time in a Melbourne Cup is shared by Archer in the first Melbourne Cup in 1861 and Lantern in 1864. Both horses ran the distance in 3.52.0.

Melbourne Cup crowds

The biggest crowd ever recorded at Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day saw 122,736 people witness Makybe Diva win the first of her three Cups in 2003.

In 2021 just 10,000 saw Verry Elleegant win due to Covid-19 crowd restrictions after the general public and owners were not allowed on course in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Last year the official crowd was only 73,816 at Flemington to watch Gold Trip win, the lowest crowd on Melbourne Cup Day since 1995.

Best lead-up form races since 2000

Six of the past 22 Melbourne Cup winners have come through the Cox Plate, Gold Trip the last to do it in 2022 when he checked in ninth at The Valley a week after finishing second in the Caulfield Cup.

The Caulfield Cup has been used successfully as the final lead-up race on five occasions, the latest being in 2019 with Vow And Declare.

The best Northern Hemisphere lead-up race has proven to be the Irish St Leger which has produced two Melbourne Cup winners – Cross Current in 2018 and Twilight Payment in 2020.

Melbourne Cup Betting

Melbourne Cup favourites have won 32 times – Fiorente, a $7 chance in 2013, was the last favourite to salute for the punters.

Phar Lap was the shortest priced favourite to win when $1.75 in 1930, followed by Revenue ($2.75 in 1901) and Archer ($3 in 1862).

Only four $101 roughies have won the Melbourne Cup – The Pearl in 1871, Wotan in 1936, Old Rowley in 1940 with Prince Of Penzance the most recent in 2015.

Gold Trip won in 2022 at $21.

The average winning price since 2000 is $17.45.

Winning Melbourne Cup Margins

Archer (1862) and Rain Lover (1968) share the record having won the race by eight lengths.

The biggest winning margin since 2000 has been four lengths – achieved by Protectionist in 2014 and Verry Elleegant in 2021.

The shortest winning margin since 2000 has been a nose, Viewed (2008) and Dunaden (2011) both winning by the barest margin recordable.

The Melbourne Cup curse

The number 18 is something you don’t want near your horse, saddlecloth, or barrier.

Barrier 18 has only produced one Melbourne Cup winner, Verry Elleegant in 2021, while the number 18 has only been carried to victory once, in 1932, by the great Peter Pan.

Originally published as History and statistics tell us plenty about how to find the Melbourne Cup winner