The greatest stories of Melbourne Cups past

The Melbourne Cup has been capturing the public's attention since 1861, perhaps the only race that really reaches across country and city, racing enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike.

Individual Cups stick in the memory for various reasons.

It might be the triumph of a champion horse or trainer, stamping their greatness in Australia's most famous race.

It could be the backstory of a horse that takes the public's imagination — the distance they have travelled or the setbacks they have overcome.

Or it could be for something completely different.

Here are a collection of Melbourne Cup stories — some of them famous, some of them less so.

Take a look back at a select seven of the 156 editions of the Race That Stops A Nation.

The Hat-Trick: Makybe Diva, 2005

By the time Makybe Diva came to Flemington in 2005, she had already done more than enough to ensure her place in history.

Her defeat of Dermot Weld's Vinnie Roe the previous year — following her win over She's Archie in 2003 — made her only the fourth horse ever to clinch back-to-back victories in the Cup.

External Link: Makybe Diva – 2005 Melbourne Cup

Surely a third victory was a step too far, especially once the mighty mare was allocated the topweight of 58kg, 2.5kg more than she had the previous year.

Her main rivals on paper were Japanese galloper Eye Popper, lightweight gelding Leica Falcon, the John Hawkes-trained Railings and the veteran Vinnie Roe.

Makybe Diva was ridden quietly during the race, but she was still well back coming to the turn, and given the weight she was carrying, the job appeared too great.

But jockey Glen Boss guided her through the traffic and when a gap opened up at the 400m, she breezed through and kept going.

She became only the third topweight to win the Cup since 1969, and Greg Miles got it right when he called, "a champion becomes a legend".

The Big Upset: Prince of Penzance, 2015

Michelle Payne holds the Melbourne Cup after winning on Prince of Penzance at Flemington in 2015.

An international raider was the favourite at Flemington in 2015 — Japan's Fame Game was the top pick for punters going into the race.

At the other end of the market was a 100-1 shot, Prince of Penzance — from trainer Darren Weir — who had won only once at Flemington in six previous runs.

External Link: Prince of Penzance – 2015 Melbourne Cup

There were plenty of storylines around the horse, including jockey Michelle Payne, from a famous Victorian racing family.

The strapper was Michelle's brother Stevie, who has Down syndrome — he was chosen to select the barrier at the Cup draw, and he chose well, securing barrier two.

The draw gave Prince of Penzance the inside line and at halfway Payne had her mount lying 10th on the fence, but coming around the turn the horse was eased well off the rail but behind seven or eight rivals.

A gap opened up at the top of the straight, and Payne waited a couple of seconds and said go. Prince of Penzance responded, hitting the front at the clocktower, and the bay gelding went on to clinch the win, making Payne the first ever female jockey to win the Cup.

She made her own history in her post-race speech, telling those who had doubted her and other female jockeys to "get stuffed".

The Fastest: Kingston Rule, 1990

Kingston Rule wins the 1990 Melbourne Cup at Flemington.

Equal favourite Kingston Rule started awkwardly … but he got into a good position on the rail and tried to keep out of trouble.

At the 800m mark Kingston Rule was in eighth spot on the fence and starting to push forward, but he still had a fair bit of work to do.

External Link: Kingston Rule – 1990 Melbourne Cup

Savage Toss and Our Magic Man came clear at the top of the straight, and looked briefly like they had the race between them.

But jockey Darren Beadman pushed Kingston Rule through along the rail, and then got out at the 300m to have a proper crack at the leaders.

He hit the front with momentum, and although the other equal favourite The Phantom loomed as a late challenger, Kingston Rule held on to win in a record time of 3 minutes 16.3 seconds — giving Bart Cummings his eighth Cup win.

As a sign of how good a run it was, only three horses in the subsequent 26 runnings — Might and Power (3:18.3 in 1997), Media Puzzle (3:16.9 in 2002) and Protectionist (3:17.7 in 2014) — have come within two seconds of his winning time.

The Early Crow: Greg Hall on Doriemus, 1997

Sport can often be a game of inches or centimetres, depending where you come from and what age you are. Racing, in particular can lend itself to some very close calls.

External Link: Might and Power – 1997 Melbourne Cup

The worst nightmare of most jockeys, trainers and connections, not to mention most sports stars, is going the early crow — thinking you've got the chocolates and waving to the crowd or standing in the irons and punching the air only to find you've come up just short.

Coming into the 1997 Melbourne Cup, Might and Power was all the rage after braining the field by eight lengths in the Caulfield Cup.

Jim Cassidy on Might and Power tried to make it another front-running win, leading from virtually the start. He still led at the turn, and broke clear by a couple of lengths, but 1995 winner Doriemus was coming down the outside.

External Link: Gerard Whateley phantom Melbourne Cup call

Might and Power's lead was closing all the way to the post, and it looked like a possible dead-heat on the line. Greg Hall had other ideas, however. Doriemus' jockey brandished his whip skywards in triumph, claiming the win.

When the numbers went up, Hall was left with egg on his face, as Might and Power held on by a nose.

The Protest: Let's Elope — Shiva's Revenge, 1991

External Link: Let's Elope – 1991 Melbourne Cup

The year after Bart's eighth Flemington win, the "Cups King" was right in the mix with two of the leading chances in Let's Elope and Shiva's Revenge.

Let's Elope had beaten Shiva's Revenge in the Caulfield Cup, then won the Mackinnon Stakes on Derby Day, and the mare was made favourite for the big race.

Both horses were well back at the 800m mark, and Ivory Way led at the turn. Let's Elope started to make her move at the top of the straight and came through to challenge and hit the front.

There was some bumping on the inside, Shiva's Revenge came barrelling home late but couldn't catch Let's Elope. Shiva's Revenge's jockey, Shane Dye, fired in a protest despite the winning margin being two and a half lengths.

Bart Cummings was asked for his thoughts, and wryly quipped to the TV cameras that he couldn't lose. He was right — the protest was dismissed, and he still had the quinella and his ninth Cup.

The Come-From-Nowhere win: Kiwi, 1983

New Zealand horses have played a major role in Melbourne Cup history, and the one with the most New Zealand name possible — Kiwi — made his name at Flemington in 1983.

In the wet on a grey Melbourne day, Kiwi had just two horses behind him at the 800m mark.

External Link: Kiwi – 1983 Melbourne Cup

As the field swung into the straight, Jim Cassidy had his work cut out — Kiwi was still a long way from the lead.

He started to make a move, but Kiwi was still 14th or 15th at the 300m, and with no clear path to victory.

Cassidy weaved his way through the traffic, and got out before the clocktower — and it was then that Kiwi hit top gear.

He unleashed a finishing burst that took him nearly two lengths clear on the line, to register one of the great Melbourne Cup wins.

The Slowest: Archer, 1861

Like Kingston Rule, Archer established a fastest Cup winning time in 1861 — but only because it was the first Melbourne Cup ever.

The Etienne de Mestre-trained Archer finished the race in three minutes 52 seconds. He carried 9 stone 7 lbs (60.3kg) to victory, and backed it up a year later winning with 10 stone 2lbs (60.45kg) in a time of 3:47:00.

No doubt Archer's connections would have shaken their heads at what happened a year after that — when the dual winner was unable to make the field and try to make it a hat-trick — when Banker carried just 5 stone 4lbs (33.5kg) to victory.

Carrying nearly 27kgs less than Archer's Cup wins, Banker's winning time was 3:44:00, eight seconds better than the 1861 win, but only three seconds better than 1862.

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