Fairytales Always Win Melbourne Cups. Here's This Year's Best Contenders For Cup Folklore

Fawkner. Go ‘Straya. Picture: Getty Images

Whoever wins the Melbourne Cup, there’s always seems to be a great story behind it.

From the original legend Phar Lap through to three-time winner Makybe Diva, owned by a South Australian fisherman more famous for his mullet than his tuna, racing scribes are rarely lost for words when the winner of Australia’s greatest race flashes past the post.

So while there’s countless ways for once-a-year punters trying to pull a winner out of the hat, here’s a look at which would-be winners are best set up to provide the fairytale finish of the day.

The Aussie Battlers – FAWKNER and UNCHAIN MY HEART

Yes, there are just two Aussie bred horses in the race. Of the 24 likely entrants, seven are Irish, five English, five Kiwis, and one each are German, Japanese, French and American. World gone mad.

The Old Bugger Who Just Won’t Give Up – RED CADEAUX

Red Cadeaux. Experience is everything. Picture: Getty Images
  • He would be the oldest horse ever to win the Melbourne Cup.
  • He’s been pipped at the Melbourne Cup post – twice. The biggest loser is Shadow King, who bagged two thirds and two seconds in the 1930s.

The Traditional Bet On Bart – PRECEDENCE

Woburn Abbey, where Neil Diamond once was. Twice. Picture: Wikimedia Commons
  • It would give Bart Cummings the “baker’s dozen” he’s been pining for since 2008’s 12th win with Viewed.
  • He’s the brother of Might and Power and Octagonal.
  • He would be the oldest horse ever to win the Melbourne Cup.
  • He’s part-owned by the Dowager Duchess of Bedford, who appeared in three series of the BBC reality show Country House, with her estate Woburn Abbey. (Neil Diamond has played there – twice. Twice!

The Boy From The Bush – UNCHAIN MY HEART

Dean Yendall. Might take a day off this year. Picture: Getty Images
  • This one’s all about the rider, desperately unfashionable “bush jockey” Dean Yendall. He’s Victoria’s leading jockey this year, but refuses to budge from his beloved home in Horsham. (It’s got a great golf course, for starters.)
  • Yendall, 40, travels up to 100,000km a year to get to race meets.
  • Despite a hugely successful career, this will be just his second Cup ride. He’s easily the jockey every other rider will be cheering on.
  • Best quote: “I ride every $#@! day of the week!'” He does, too, only taking Good Friday and Christmas Day off.

All The Firsts – CAVALRYMAN

Saeed bin Suroor. Somebody give this man a Cup. Picture: Getty Images
  • A nine-year-old has never won the Cup.
  • Jockey Craig Williams has never ridden a Melbourne Cup winner.
  • Dubai powerhouse Godolphin Racing, a nine-time Champion British Owner, has never produced a Cup winner.
  • Saeed bin Suroor, a four-time Champion British Trainer, has never trained a Melbourne Cup winner.

Best Story Behind The Best Name – WHO SHOT THEBARMAN

Who Shot Thebarman. Typos can be good. Picture: Getty Images
  • Owned by the Kiwi O’Leary clan and cheered on by “half of Wanganui”.
  • Named after their Aunty Julie who died 10 years ago. She was famous for demanding booze as soon as she walked through the door with the phrase: “Who shot the barman?”
  • The family always wanted it for a horse’s name, but refused to waste it on a nag.
  • They chose well. Who Shot Thebarman won the Auckland Cup in his ninth start earlier this year.
  • He cost $10,000 and they raised him in a cow paddock so he could stretch out his legs.
  • You’ll spot the O’Learys at Flemington. There’ll be about 40 of them in the stand, wearing orange and white.

The Jockey Who’s Done It All – MUTUAL REGARD and ROYAL DIAMOND

  • Irishman Johnny Murtagh is having a crack at training since retiring from riding in February.
  • He was Ireland’s under-14 boxing champion, but a spectator at one of his fights turned to his mum and said he looked like he’d make a good jockey.
  • He’s now considered one of the greatest flat race jockeys ever, with over 100 Group 1 winners under his belt. The Epsom, the Ascot Gold Cup, The Breeders, Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – he won them all.
  • Was drawn into a huge controversy just before retiring from riding when someone in the US posted this video in March, claiming it showed Murtagh handing something to the daughter of the trainer of the horse he’d just rode to victory. The British Horseracing Authority quickly cleared him of any wrongdoing.

The Sporting Legend Gets The Biggest Triple – BRAMBLES, GATEWOOD, LIDARI and AU REVOIR

Simon O’Donnell. All-round good guy. Picture: Getty Images
  • Simon O’Donnell survived cancer, played 24 VFL games for St Kilda and was one of Australia’s favourite all-round cricketers, playing in its 1987 World Cup win.
  • He quickly moved into racing after retiring from cricket and is now a co-founder of OTI Racing.
  • He owned Bauer in the 2008 Melbourne Cup when it was beaten by a nostril.
  • OTI is shaping up to have no less than four entrants in the Melbourne Cup. The best chance of them all is Brambles, but if you’re cheering for O’Donnell, who also just happens to be a great bloke, also get on Gatewood, Lidari and Au Revoir.

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