Last updated on October 17, 2023
Any Australian knows that the Melbourne Cup is the most prestigious and popular event in Australia. But do you know some of the fascinating facts and statistics behind this race? Here are some of them to get you started:
- The Melbourne Cup was first run in 1861, making it one of the oldest races in the world. The inaugural winner was Archer, who also won the following year.
- The race is known as “the race that stops a nation” because it attracts millions of viewers and bettors across Australia and beyond. In 2020, the race was watched by 3.5 million people on TV and online.
- The race has a prize money of $8 million, making it the richest handicap race in the world. The winner takes home $4.4 million, plus a trophy worth $250,000.
- The race is run over a distance of 3200 metres, or two miles, at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. The track is shaped like a pear and has a long straight of 450 metres.
- Despite many tries to cancel the race(based on the “nup to the cup” campaign), it’s still one of the biggest races in the world
- The most successful age group is four-year-olds and five-year-olds, which have both won 45 times each, followed by six-year-olds with 33 wins. The oldest horse to win was Twilight Payment at eight years old in 2020, while the youngest horses to win were two-year-olds in the early years of the race.
- The most successful gender is stallions, which have won 72 times, followed by geldings with 54 wins. Only 14 mares have won the race, with Makybe Diva being the most famous, winning three consecutive cups from 2003 to 2005.
- The most successful barrier is number 5. It’s produced eight winners, followed by barriers 10, 14 and 19, which have each produced seven winners. The least successful barrier is number 18 and has never produced a winner.
- The heaviest weight carried to victory was 65.5 kg by Carbine in 1890, while the lightest weight carried to victory was 33.5 kg by Banker in 1863.
The race has also seen some remarkable feats and records over the years. Some of them are:
- Makybe Diva is the only horse to win the race three times, in 2003, 2004 and 2005. She is also the most famous mare to win the race, as only 14 mares in total and 12 individual mares have won the Melbourne Cup.
- Bart Cummings is the most successful trainer in the race’s history, with 12 wins between 1965 and 2008. He is known as “the Cups King”.
- Bobby Lewis and Harry White are the most successful jockeys, with four wins each. Lewis won his first Cup in 1902 and his last in 1927, while White won his first in 1974 and his last in 1979.
- Barrier 5 is the most successful barrier, with eight wins. However, no horse has ever won from barrier 18.
- Kingston Rule holds the record for the fastest time, with 3 minutes and 16.3 seconds in 1990. Archer holds the record for the slowest time, with 3 minutes and 52 seconds in 1861.
- Carbine holds the record for carrying the heaviest weight, with 65.5 kg in 1890. He also won by three lengths, despite having 24 rivals.
The wildest bookie payouts
But what are the odds of picking a winner in this unpredictable event? Here are some facts and statistics about the horses that have won with the most outsider odds in the past.
- The biggest upset in Melbourne Cup history was Prince of Penzance in 2015, who won at 100/1 odds with Michelle Payne becoming the first female jockey to win the race.
- The second biggest shock was The Pearl in 1871, who also won at 100/1 odds but in a much smaller field of only seven runners.
- The third biggest surprise was Wotan in 1936, who won at 100/1 odds after being rejected by his original owner and sold for only 50 pounds.
- Other notable long shots that have won the Melbourne Cup include Old Rowley in 1940 (100/1), Rimfire in 1948 (80/1), Hi Jinx in 1960 (50/1), Westwood in 1963 (50/1), Van Der Hum in 1976 (33/1), Viewed in 2008 (40/1) and Vow And Declare in 2019 (25/1).
- The average winning odds of the Melbourne Cup since 1861 is 19.4/1, which means that picking a winner is not an easy task.
Anything can happen with The Melbourne Cup, It’s a race full of surprises and drama. It is a test of endurance, skill and luck for both horses and jockeys. The Melbourne Cup is a cultural phenomenon that showcases the best of Australian spirit and passion, and not just “a horse race”
Audience attendance statistics for the Melbourne Cup
The Melbourne Cup attracts huge crowds every year to Flemington Racecourse, as well as millions of viewers on television and online. However, the attendance numbers have fluctuated over the years, heavily influenced by various factors such as weather, COVID-19, animal welfare concerns and changing social trends.
- The highest attendance record for the Melbourne Cup was set in 2003, when 122,736 people witnessed Makybe Diva win her first of three consecutive cups.
- During COVID there was a the lowest attendance record was set. Nobody was allowed to attend due to the pandemic.
- The average attendance for the Melbourne Cup from 2000 to 2019 was 99,919 people.
- The Melbourne Cup is part of a four-day carnival that also includes the Victoria Derby, the VRC Oaks and the Mackinnon Stakes. The highest attendance record for the entire carnival was set in 2006, when 418,069 people attended the four days of racing.
- The real lowest attendance record for the entire carnival was set in 2021, when only 35,000 people were allowed to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions.
- The average attendance for the entire carnival from 2000 to 2019 was 314,599 people.
The race has a strong and loyal fan base, but has also faced some challenges in maintaining its appeal and relevance in the modern era. The impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and devastating for the racing industry, but also offers the opportunity to rethink and reinvent the event for the future.
Fashions on the field
The Melbourne Cup is also a chance for everyone to flex their fashion style for one day of the year.
- In 2018, $62.9 million was spent on retail (fashion and grooming), while $35.4 million was spent on 357,928 individual fashion items, including 54,821 pairs of shoes, 49,559 dresses, 19,089 suits, and 55,433 hats and fascinators.
- The Birdcage is the exclusive enclosure reserved for celebrities, models and high society types that attend Flemington Racecourse on Melbourne Cup Day. They often wear outfits from luxury brands like Chloé, Paolo Sebastian and Dion Lee.
- Fashions on the Field is a popular competition that awards prizes for the best-dressed male and female racegoers. The contest started in 1962 and has since become a major attraction of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
- Some of the most memorable outfits at the Melbourne Cup include Rebecca Harding’s carousel horse dress in 2019, Megan Gale’s star-studded gown in 2018, Lara Worthington’s white lace ensemble in 2018, and Gabi Grecko’s carnival-style corset in 2014.
Betting statistics on The Melbourne Cup
If you’ve picked the favourite in the office sweeps, hang on to it. History has shown the favour almost always gets up in the top 3. Consider this:
- The favourite is not always a sure bet. Historically, only 34 favourites have won the Melbourne Cup, and 75 favourites have finished in the first three placings. The last favourite to win was Fiorente in 2013 .
- The barrier draw can make a difference. Some barriers have produced more winners than others, such as barrier 5 (8 wins), barrier 10 (8 wins), barrier 14 (8 wins) and barrier 19 (8 wins). However, no horse has ever won from barrier 18 .
The most important thing is to have fun, whether you dress up, have a party or celebrate in your own way – the Melbounre Cup Carnival is always an amazing day.
It’s a fascinating race that showcases the best of Australian racing and culture. Whether you are a casual punter or a serious gambler, you can enjoy the excitement and drama of the race that captivates the nation every year.
We can’t ignore the glaring fact that the Melbourne Cup will always be a part of Australia’s cultural identity. It will also need to adapt and evolve to keep attracting new and diverse audiences. But that’s a whole other can of worms.
The race time over the years
The fastest horse has been Kingston Rule in 1990 with a time of 3:16.30 and the slowest was in 1861 of Archer at 3:52.00 witch was equalled in 1864 by Lantern. The average over all the years is 3 minutes, 22 seconds, and 10 milliseconds.
|1976||Van der Hum||3:34.10|
|1977||Gold and Black||3:18.40|
|1981||Just A Dash||3:21.20|
|1985||What A Nuisance||3:23.00|
|1997||Might and Power||3:18.33|
|2015||Prince of Penzance||3:23.15|
|2019||Vow and Declare||3:27.34|