15 Melbourne Cup Facts you might not know

The 1866 Melbourne Cup

Photo: George Serras courtesy of the National Museum of Australia

It's almost time for that "race that stops a nation", with the Melbourne Cup ready to run next Tuesday 1st November. Run every year on the first Tuesday in November, the Melbourne Cup has become a national institution, and in celebration of the 155th Cup, here's a few facts you might not know about our country's most famous horse race:

1.     The first ever winner of The Cup – Archer in 1861 – didn’t win a cup at all, but rather a gold watch. Trophy cups didn’t start being awarded until 1865

2.   A cup was first awarded to the winner in 1865, who sold it (he thought it was ugly), so the oldest Melbourne Cup in its original condition is the 1866 trophy, which has lived a the National Museum of Australia since 2012

3.  The Cup was first run on a Tuesday in 1875

4.     The youngest jockey to win The Cup was Peter St. Albans on Briseis in 1876. He was 12 years and 358 days old

5.     Eleven horses have won both the Caulfield Cup and the Melbourne Cup in the same year, including a horse called The Trump in 1937

6.     The current Melbourne Cup record is 3:16.30, run by Kingston Rule in 1993

7.   Michelle Payne was the first female jockey to win The Cup, Claire Lindop was the first Australian female jockey to ride, but the first female jockey in the Melbourne Cup was Maree Lyndon on Argonaut Style in 1987

8.     Melbourne Cup Day became a public holiday in Victoria in 1877

9.   The smallest Melbourne Cup field was in 1863 with just 7 horses, while the largest was in 1890, with 39 horses

10.   The Melbourne Cup was filmed for the first time in 1896, and first broadcast on the radio in 1925

11.     The race has been postponed twice because of rain – in 1870 and then again in 1916

12.     There has never been a dead heat finish for The Cup, although in 2011 officials took more than 5 minutes to declare Dunaden the winner by photo

13.     The 1895 Melbourne Cup was witnessed by Mark Twain, who wrote:

“Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such magnificent appeal to the whole nation.”

Jim Pike rides Phar Lap to victory

Photo: Charles Pratt, courtesy State Library of Victoria

14. Phar Lap is the only horse to start favourite in three successive Cups, but he only won one of them - in 1930 ridden by Jim Pike

15.     If you draw Barrier 18 in the workplace sweepstakes, it might not be worth watching the race, because no horse has ever won from Barrier 18 in 154 Melbourne Cups