Cup Trainers

When it comes to success in the world’s most famous horse race, the Melbourne Cup, it takes many different individuals working together to produce a winner. There are a number of victorious Melbourne Cup horses that have become house-hold names, true recognised and respected champions. Names like Makybe Diva and Pharlap that even the most casual racing spectator will recognise. But as amazing as these creatures are, they don’t just train and race themselves; it takes a team of dedicated professionals from the horse racing industry to turn a horse into a Melbourne Cup winner and seal them into the history books forever.

Besides the breeders, owners and jockeys the other essential member of this team is the horse’s trainer. Often the trainers, with their extensive knowledge and success become as, if not more, famous than the horses they coach for victory. It takes much skill and patience to train a horse, but with the right degree of time and effort it can become an extremely rewarding and profitable profession.

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Australia’s most celebrated and successful horse trainers are those whose horses have won the Melbourne Cup. It is a dream of every trainer in Australia, and many international trainers as well, to prepare a Cup winner. A Melbourne Cup victory comes with status and respect and most trainers who have managed a Cup win go on to achieve further success.

When it comes to betting on the Melbourne Cup and its field of runners, many punters will take serious consideration of who the trainer of each horse is and what their career statistics are like. Over the rich history of the Melbourne Cup there have been numerous trainers to take out multiple Cup victories, so a previous Cup win is always a good indication of a trainer and horse’s chance of placing in a Cup run.

Below is a short biography of some of the most famous Melbourne Cup trainers.

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FIRST MELBOURNE CUP TRAINER:

When the first Melbourne Cup ran in 1861, the winning horse was Archer with his trainer Etienne de Mestre. In later years de Mestre would train and own another four Cup winners, a record number for 99 years until Bart Cummings attained his sixth, of his eventual twelve, Cup victories in 1977 with Gold And Black. The following year Archer and de Mestre took out the Melbourne Cup again, giving the trainer two Cup victories before his 30th birthday.

Also known to be an eager bettor, de Mestre won the Cup again in 1867 with Tim Whiffler, Chester in 1877 and Calamia the following year 1878. He quit training following his financial downturn after the drought, and his failure to win back a large amount of money he wagered on his runners Navigator and Gudarz to win the Victoria Derby-Melbourne Cup double in 1882.

FIRST FEMALE TRAINER OF A MELBOURNE CUP WINNER:

Sheila Laxon became the first female trainer to win the Melbourne Cup in 2001 when her heroic mare Ethereal was victorious in the Caulfield-Melbourne Cups double. Sheila’s husband Laurie Laxon was the trainer of the 1988 Cup winner Empire Rose. With the victory she set a new standard for women in racing.

Before becoming a trainer, Sheila was a jockey in New Zealand, but a devastating fall in 1991 put a sudden end to her career. After her Melbourne Cup success, Laxon was named the Australian Racing Personality of the Year in 2002, as well as co-winner of the New Zealand trainer of the year.

MOST SUCCESSFUL MELBOURNE CUP TRAINER:

James Bartholomew Cummings is undoubtedly the most eminent Cup trainer, with an amazing twelve Melbourne Cup victories to date.

Bart got his start in the Melbourne Cup when he was a strapper for his father’s horse Comic Court in 1950. As a child he was told he had an allergy to horses and chaff, but he beat the odds and went on to train a record number of Cup winners that may never be matched.

His first horse to race in the Melbourne Cup was a horse named Asian Court who placed 12th in 1958. On the 50th anniversary of this first Cup runner, Cummings produced another winner, Viewed, his 12th Cup victory and 250th Group 1 winner.

Known as the ‘Cups King’, Bart Cummings’ record exceeds just Melbourne Cup success, as he is the first Australian trainer to win one million dollars in Stakes in one season. Prior to that, one of his most triumphant seasons occurred in the spring of 1974 when he trained the winners of the Caulfield Guineas, Toorak Handicap, Caulfield Cup, L.K.S. Mackinnon Stakes, Melbourne Cup, Wakeful Stakes, Oaks Stakes, Queen’s Cup and George Adams Handicap, for stakes earnings of more than $430,000.

Bart’s achievements were honoured by the VRC when they commissioned a bronzed statue of him, now situated in the ‘Birdcage Area’ at Flemington. When he took out his tenth Cup victory in 1996 with Saintly, the club awarded him with his own replica of the ‘Loving Cup’, which until then was a privilege only for owners.

J.B. Cummings has won the Melbourne Cup with Light Fingers (1965), Galilee (1966), Red Handed (1967), Think Big 1974-75), Gold And Black (1977), Hyperno (1979), Kingston Rule (1990), Let’s Elope (1991), Saintly (1996), Rogan Josh (1999) and Viewed in 2008; these wins give him the title for the Cup trainer with the most inductions into racing’s Hall of Fame. Including his Melbourne Cup victors, he has trained over 6 000 winners, and he is known as not only the most successful Melbourne Cup trainer of all time, but the most successful Australian horse trainer as well.

MELBOURNE CUP TRAINERS INDUCTED INTO THE HALL OF FAME:

It is a huge honour for anyone involved in horse racing to be inaugurated into racing’s Hall of Fame. Here is a complete list of all of the Cup trainers who have achieved this feat and for what years.

E. de Mestre 1861, 1862, 1867, 1877 & 1878

J. Tait 1866, 1868, 1871 & 1872

W. Hickenbotham 1888, 1890, 1896 & 1905

R. Bradfield 1894, 1902, 1918 & 1924

J. Scobie 1900, 1922, 1923 & 1927

F. Mcgrath (Snr) 1909, 1932 & 1934

J. Holt 1933

L. Robertson 1935

M. McCarten 1951

F. Hoysted 1954

T.J. Smith 1955 & 1981

J.B. Cummings 1965, 1966, 1967, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1996, 1999, 2008

G.M. Hanlon 1972, 1978 & 1984

C.S. Hayes 1980 & 1986

G. Murphy 1982

D.L. Freedman 1989, 1992, 1995, 2004 & 2005

J. Denham 1997.