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The Most Shocking and Surprising Melbourne Cup Winners

The Most Shocking and Surprising Melbourne Cup Winners

Every year, the best horses from around the world compete to be crowned champion of the Melbourne Cup, one of the most prestigious races in the sport. Usually, tipsters have some idea of who will reign victorious, but there are times when Melbourne Cup results leave spectators and industry experts aghast.

Here are the most surprising Melbourne Cup winners of all time:


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Archer – 1861 and 1862

The favourite to win the first Melbourne Cup was the Victorian champion called Mormon. However, Archer travelled all the way from Sydney and was given no real chance of a win. However, he left others for dust as he galloped past the finish line 6 lengths clear of the people’s favourite. That impressive victory earned his owners 710 sovereigns and a gold watch. He did the very same thing next year, demolishing the competition, but was unable to race the following year, which meant he missed out on the hat-trick.

The Pearl – 1871

Ten years later came the first racer that came in a winner with odds of 100/1. He wasn’t even fancied by his owner and trainer either, who put a lot of their effort into stablemate Pyrrhus – with The Pearl just being considered an afterthought. However, he silenced the ‘neigh’ sayers by finishing the race two lengths ahead of the competition.

Zulu – 1881

It seems surprising winners came along once every ten years – with Zulu entering the race as the ‘lame pony’. This was a small horse and was overshadowed by his fellow competitors. But fate intervened… when a dog ran onto the track which caused a collision, wiping out three horses and injuring one jockey so badly that he ended up succumbing to his injuries. The 50/1 horse evaded the confusion and strode home to claim victory.

Wotan – 1936

The next horse to defy 100/1 odds to take victory was Wotan. He was seen before this as a flop and was only entered to make up the numbers. His fierce strength and courage saw him burst with energy towards the final six furlongs to ultimately claim the title.


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Old Rowley – 1940

There wasn’t long to wait until the next 100/1 Melbourne Cup winner – which came along just four years later in the form of Old Rowley. Previous to this win he was seen as merely an average horse that had a bad gait. He had won just four out of sixty races and hadn’t won anything in the past two years. However, he held his own throughout the race and was leading the way up by the final furlong, where he managed to stave off his rivals and claim victory.

Rimfire – 1948

Ray Neville was just fifteen years old when he steered Rimfire to victory – as an 80/11 outsider. He was just one day away from turning sixteen and as an apprentice, he had only ever ridden one winner before this race. Rimfire was also seen as an underdog – with his trainer believing him to be so lame that he wouldn’t likely make it to the finish line. Although the race was a photo finish – he even ended up breaking the race record, previously held by Wotan and Russia.

Hi Jinx – 1960

Hi Jinx was a New Zealand bred and trained horse that was seen as an outsider for the race’s 100th-anniversary celebrations. He struggled to complete the Caulfield Cup just a few weeks earlier and as such was given meagre odds of 50/1 – a course underdog. However, with 32 horses racing, she managed to beat names including Tulloch. The race was tight, with Hi Jinx, Ilumquh and Howsie all fighting for victory but it was Hi Jinx that romped home – winning by a neck and leaving the crowd aghast.

Prince of Penzance – 2015

It had seemed that finding another 100/1 winner of the Melbourne Cup would never happen again – with the last one shocking the crowds 65 years previous. However, the fourth horse to defy the gigantic odds came in the shape of Prince of Penzance, as he put on a magnificent show, holding off the strong late challenge from Max Dynamite. What’s more, Michelle Payne, the jockey, also became the first-ever female jockey to win the race, making sure that history was made on that November day in 2015.

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