Rekindling winning the 2017 Melbourne Cup
In the past five years there have been a mixed bag of winners from across Australia and Northern Hemisphere raiders who have claimed the prestigious Melbourne Cup. There have been some fairytales and other close calls so we take a look through the past 5 years of the Melbourne cup and who came out on top at Flemington’s biggest race.
2019 Melbourne Cup Winner
Winner - Vow and Declare
Trainer - Danny O’Brien
Jockey - Craig Williams
Price - $11.00
Vow and Declare before the Melbourne Cup
Vow and Declare could have had a completely different career from day one with breeder Paul Lanskey set to sell the colt at the 2017 Inglis Classic Sale. With a reserve of $70,000 a bid of just $45,000 was received but rejected by Lanskey, who along with connections retained the services of the future Melbourne Cup winner.
Vow and Declare would go unraced as a two year old commencing his career as a three year old claiming his first win after four starts. It wouldn’t be until the end of his three year old career and start of the four year old season where the now gelding would really hit his straps.
He would head to the Winter Carnival in Queensland where he would run second in the Group One Queensland Derby before claiming the Tattersall's Cup over an extended distance of 3000m under the ride of Glen Boss.
In the lead up to his 2019 Melbourne Cup victory Vow and Declare would finish fourth in the Group One Turnbull Stakes before finishing runner up in the Group One Caulfield Cup. Each time Vow and Declare stepped up in distance the performances kept getting better.
Vow and Declare wins the 2019 Melbourne Cup
It had been a rough couple of years for the Aussies having seen Rekindling and then Cross Counter travelling from the Northern Hemisphere and claim Melbourne Cup titles under light weights and light penalties.
Vow and Declare winning the 2019 Melbourne Cup was just one for the Aussies it was the way that the gelding won that made the cheers louder.
The Danny O’Brien runner had drawn the carpark and had to do plenty of work early to cross and lead in the early stages and slow the pace down. He would be joined up front by Twilight Payment and Master of Reality with perennial Melbourne Cup place-getter Prince Of Arran stalking the speed.
The four year old gelding would stalk the pace before finding a rails run and battling head to head with Master of Reality and Prince of Arran all the way to the line. It would be a head bob that win the 2019 Melbourne Cup, getting up on the line to defeat the Northern Hemisphere raiders.
Vow and Declare after the Melbourne Cup
Since winning the Melbourne Cup and despite still racing regularly since winning the 3200m Handicap, a mix of poor form and injuries have stopped Vow and Declare winning another race in Australia.
There were glimmers of hope after the the following year when Vow and Declare came third in the Group One Australian Cup at Flemington but has failed to land a glove on any high level competition.
Despite that Vow and Declare has continued to run across the country featuring at Royal Randwick, Caulfield and Flemington since. Most recently there were encouraging signs when finishing third in a Listed Grade race at Flemington in a large field.
2020 Melbourne Cup Winner
Winner - Twilight Payment
Trainer - Joseph O’Brien
Jockey - Jye McNeil
Price - $26.00
Twilight Payment Before The Melbourne Cup
Twilight Payment was an unusual case as he ran in the Melbourne Cup the year prior to winning it. In 2019 he finished 11th in the field that saw Vow and Declare come out on top. That day he had had a brief spell at the front of the field before falling away. A tactic we would see again in 2020’s Melbourne Cup.
Twilight Payment was trained by 2017 Melbourne Cup winning trainer, Irishman, Joseph O’Brien who was looking for his second success in the race after Rekindling conquered the Melbourne Cup field as a three year old.
The seven year old had been mixing form in UK and Ireland with Listed and Grade victories at the Curragh, Leopardstown and Ascot but they had been few and far between giving Twilight Payment a Jekyll and Hyde personality.
Twilight Payment Wins The Melbourne Cup
The 2020 Melbourne Cup was a star studded affair with the likes of Sir Dragonet, Anothony Van Dyk and Master Of Reality all travelling from the Northern Hemisphere to challenge Australia’s best distance racers.
Jye McNeil decided to take Twilight to the front of the Melbourne Cup field and it proved the right call as the Irish runner put on a front running masterclass when dominating such a star studded field.
It would be at 1000m Twilight Payment would show why he was a Melbourne Cup winner when turning up the pace to string out the field while continuing to build a lead he’d had since the first time past the post. With only Finche for company it was looking likely to be a two horse race.
A Finche buckled under pressure in the straight Twilight Payment was able to pinch a five length lead and despite fast finishes from Tiger Moth and once again Prince Of Arran the Joseph O’Brien runner would win and claim a second Melbourne Cup for the Irishman.
Twilight Payment After The Melbourne Cup
After victory in the Melbourne Cup, Twilight Payment would head back to Europe where he would race a further five times which included a Group Three Victory in the Irish St Ledger Trial when carrying a back breaking 62kgs at the Curragh. That race would set him up for the Group One Irish St Ledger where he would ultimately fall short, finishing second behind Sonnyboyliston.
That would set up talk of a Melbourne Cup defence and as Twilight Payment a few punters were looking for the aging warhorse to roll back the clocks and claim a Cup victory under top weight and the oldest horse label.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for Twilight Payment and the Melbourne Cup 2021 marked the end of his career as he was retired after the race and taken back to Ireland to head to the paddock permanently.
2021 Melbourne Cup Winner
Winner - Verry Elleegant
Trainer - Chris Waller
Jockey - James McDonald
Price - $18.00
Verry Elleegant Before The Melbourne Cup
We don’t have to travel too far into the history books to understand how Chris Waller trained Verry Elleegant ended up at the gates of Melbourne Cup glory in 2021. Having followed in the shadow of Winx for so long Verry Elleegant had a breakout year the in 2020 putting her stamp on the Melbourne Spring Carnival.
In the year prior to her Melbourne Cup success Verry Elleegant had won the Group One Winx Stakes, Group One Turnbull Stakes and The Group One Caulfield Cup. Her win in the Caulfield Cup was so dominant there was talk she could have won the 2020 Melbourne Cup.
She ultimately fell short that year when finishing 7th in the race that saw Twilight Payment win the race that stops a nation.
In 2021 all the talk was about the showdown with Zaaki in the Cox Plate however with the Annabel Neasham import withdrawn on the day and Verry Elleegant finishing third many thought her season was over before even lining up in the 2021 Melbourne Cup.
Verry Elleegant Wins the 2021 Melbourne Cup
All the talk leading into the 2021 Melbourne Cup was whether new super horse Incentivise could deliver once again and take out the $8m contest. Much like Verry Ellegant 12 months earlier Incentivise had won the Turnbull and then dominated the Caulfield Cup field with an almost arrogant victory.
It wasn’t to be though as the Kiwi pair of jockey James McDonald and trainer Chris Waller would put on a masterful display that would see Verry Elleegant win the Melbourne Cup by over four lengths defeating top international Spanish Mission and race favourite Incentivise.
The win would mark trainer Chris Wallers first win in the Melbourne Cup and likewise for jockey James McDonald who was clearly ecstatic when winning the 3200m handicap,
Verry Elleegant After The Melbourne Cup
After the Melbourne Cup Verry Elleegant went straight into the tried and tested route of the Autumn contesting the Apollo Stakes, winning the Chipping Norton Stakes and finishing second in the Ranvet Stakes before failing to fire in her third Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Talk soon turned to a trip overseas and contesting the French showpiece, the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe however Waller seemed less than interested. A change of stables meant that Verry Elleegant would be transferred to the French stables of Henry Gaffard who would prepare the mare for her Arc tilt.
Verry Elleegant would go on to have a number of starts in France, competing at Group 1 and 2 level before an attempt at the Arc was abandoned and a trip to the UK and Ascot was booked. She would be unable to perform at the top level again and ultimately retired for a spell in the breeding barn.
2022 Melbourne Cup Winner
Winner - Gold Trip
Trainer - Ciaron Maher and David Eustace
Jockey - Mark Zahra
Price - $21.00
Gold Trip Before The Melbourne Cup
The story of when Gold Trip won the Melbourne Cup in 2022 is some journey with the promising French import arriving on Australian shores, originally with the aim of winning the 2021 Melbourne Cup before a controversial veterinary diagnosis banned him from racing altogether.
Gold Trip started out his career running in France and having won at Group Two level as well as finishing 4th in the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe he was purchased by Australian Bloodstock with the sole purpose of winning the Melbourne Cup.
Having arrived in Australia Gold Trip was immediately installed as the favourite for the 2021 Cox Plate and a fancied chance in the Melbourne Cup. However vets controversially scratched Gold Trip on the eve of the Cox Plate claiming he had presented with lameness.
Maher, Eustace and connections were incensed as they claimed the decision was ridiculous because Gold Trip had an unnatural running style in his fore leg that he had had since birth.
Regardless he was banned from running in the state and his 2021 Melbourne Cup run was canned. Gold Trip was then required to prove his fitness, however given he was banned from running in Victoria, Maher and Eustace sent him to Sydney to race.
So on 30th July 2022, 391 days after having his last race Gold Trip was cleared to race in the 2022 Listed Winter Challenge Stakes at Rosehill Gardens where he finished 3rd in an impressive first up run.
From there the greenlight was given for racing in Victoria and the stable were quick to make up for lost time entering Gold Trip in the Caulfield Cup, Turnbull Stakes and Cox Plate before a race in the big dance on the first Tuesday of November.
Gold Trip was unlucky not to win the Caulfield Cup having led the majority of the way before being pipped by Durston and then he gave a good showing in the WS Cox Plate wearing blinkers for the first time. It would be in the Melbourne Cup however where he would find the right formula.
Gold Trip Wins The 2022 Melbourne Cup
In the lead up to the Melbourne Cup 2022 the talk was whether Gold Trip would be able to utilise the impressive performances he had shown in the lead up to the race and convert on the biggest stage of them all.
A lot of tipsters had picked Gold Trip to win the Melbourne Cup given his impressive showings at the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate. On the other hand however many were walking away from the French Import as they were unable to pick a horse who had one career win to his name.
Race favourite Deauville Legend had been heavily backed to win the race with Gold Trip sitting around the $20 mark in betting. A lot of the new imports had been back for the race with Gold Trip almost a forgotten favourite from 2021.
He wouldn’t be forgotten for long though as Gold Trip would seize the lead from the 300m marker and while carrying the top weight of 57.5kgs would stride to the front under the ride of Zahra and claim the Melbourne Cup.
The French import would see off a late challenge from Emissary who would finish second as well as stablemate High Emocean who would claim third. Race favourite Deauville Legend would find himself eventually outpaced in the straight and finish fourth.
The win for Gold Trip would mark a number of firsts with trainers Ciaron Maher and David Eustace winning their first Melbourne Cup. It also marked a big landmark for jockey Mark Zahra who had been booked to ride Verry Elleegant the year before but was unable to ride after a fall in the lead up.
Gold Trip After The Melbourne Cup
Racing has been light for Gold Trip after winning the 2022 Melbourne Cup with only four further starts completed since winning the race that stops a nation.
He followed up his win in the Melbourne Cup with a second place finish in the Group 2 Peter Young Stakes. Gold Trip would then go on to compete in three races in Sydney failing to place in the Ranvet or Tancred Stakes before finishing 15 of 18 in the Group One Sydney Cup.
Gold Trip returned to racing in 2023 and claimed the 2023 Turnbull Stakes before being unlucky not to win the Caulfield Cup before his Melbourne Cup defence. Unfortunately Gold Trip would be unable to win the 2023 Melbourne Cup winner, finishing down the track in 17th.
2023 Melbourne Cup Winner
Winner - Without A Fight
Trainer - Anthony & Sam Freedman
Jockey - Mark Zahra
Price - $9.00
Without A Fight Before The Melbourne Cup
Without A Fight was brought over to Australia in 2022 with the sole purpose of competing in the Melbourne Cup of that year and unfortunately on his first run he struggled with the local conditions and finished 13th, 21 lengths of the winner Gold Trip.
Determined they had the right horse for the task, owners decided to transfer Without A Fight to the care of Anthony and Sam Freedman again with the aim of winning the Melbourne Cup the following year.
The six year old wouldn’t feature during the Sydney Autumn Carnival, instead the stable favoured keeping their runner in Queensland and contesting the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival .
Without A Fight would have an extremely successful time in Queensland when claiming the Group Three Lord Mayors Cup by nearly 2 lengths before scooping the riches of the Group Two Q22 by a similar margin.
The import would then be spelled in preparation for the Melbourne Spring Carnival where he would return to run fifth in the Group One Underwood Stakes.
What would happen next would have to be seen to be believed as Without A Fight stormed home in the Group One Caulfield Cup over 2400m with all the talk on whether the UK Import could become only the 12 horse in the history of the Melbourne Cup to win both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups in the same year.
Without A Fight Wins The 2023 Melbourne Cup
Heading into the 2023 Melbourne Cup all of the talk was about the years hype horse Vauban who was out to win the race for trainer Willie Mullins having converted from a jumps horse in the UK.
Vauban had been a heavy favourite going into the race with backing for Chris Waller trained Soulcombe, Vauban’s stablemate Absurde as well as the 2022 winner Gold Trip who looked to have the best chance of going back to back in the race of any runner in recent history.
Without a Fight was an active chance in the betting at $9 however many punters were putting history ahead of the Freedman runners recent form with only 11 previous runners winning the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup in the same year through the Melbourne Cups 160 year history.
Without A Fight would sit worse than midfield through the race and even after hitting traffic entering the home straight, jockey Mark Zahra would remain patient aboard the 7 year old before navigating a path through and kicking clear at the 100m marker.
There would be strong finishes from Soulcombe, Sheraz and Ashrun however the race was over with Without A Fight two lengths clear and provided jockey Mark Zahra with back to back Melbourne Cup wins after deciding to stay with Without A Fight after the pair won the Caulfield Cup together.
Without A Fight After Winning The Melbourne Cup
After winning the 2023 Melbourne Cup Without A Fight was sent for a spell in the paddock and is expected to return in 2024 to defend his dual crown he won during the Melbourne Spring Carnival.