Technically speaking flops in the Melbourne Cup are not an unusual event. In a race that has seen an antepost favourite priced under Evens win just once, there are more than a few horses that have travelled to Flemington in a haze of hype only to leave their backers empty handed. However, a handful of horses have produced flops that are memorable even by Melbourne Cup standards.
Here’s our selection of Melbourne Cup flops.
Tulloch – 1960
Tulloch’s flop in the 1960 Melbourne Cup was notable in that it represented the failure of arguably the finest horse ever to run in the race without winning it. Tulloch started the 1960 Melbourne Cup as a 3/1 favourite following consecutive wins in the Craven Plate, Cox Plate and MacKinnon Stakes. Already recognized as an all time great, and a proven stayer with two wins over 14 furlongs already to his credit, he set out in the Melbourne Cup with a massive weight of expectation added to his 64kg handicap. Tulloch went on to run the worst race of his career, finishing 7th – the only time in his career he would finish a race outside the places.
Double Trigger – 1995
Double Trigger’s reputation ahead of the 1995 Melbourne Cup merited some of the hype that surrounded his entry in the race. Prior to the 1995 Cup he pulled off the Stayer’s Triple Crown in the UK, winning the Ascot Gold Cup, Doncaster Cup and Goodwood Cup in a single season. This achievement convinced his connections that a run in the Melbourne Cup was in order, and he was shipped off to the race where he was quickly priced a 7/2 favourite. He then proceeded to run arguably the worst race of his career, coming home fourth from last under top weight.
Oscar Schindler – 1996
You’re probably looking for trouble when you start openly punting a horse as the ‘reincarnation of Phar Lap’. Yet this is exactly what Les Benton, Racing Victoria’s racing manager, did ahead of Oscar Schindler's run in the 1996 Melbourne Cup. Others predicted that this Irish trained racehorse would finish 50 lengths ahead of the field, based largely on his win in the Irish St Leger earlier that season. As it turned out, not only does pride come before a fall, but Bart Cummings’ Saintly came 14 places before Oscar Schindler, as the hyped up 4/1 favourite came home in 15th place.
Septimus – 2003
After the failures of the two UK stayers already discussed, one could have expected pundits to be somewhat more reserved in their enthusiasm for foreign entries. However, Septimus proved too tantalizing a prospect, and this Irish stallion started the 2008 Melbourne Cup as a 5/1 favourite. Enthusiasm over his prospects was based on a successful season in Ireland which had seen him win two stayers’ races, including a 13 length win in the Irish St Leger. The Melbourne Cup put his ability as a stayer into perspective as he ran home 18th out of 24 entries, while the win went to Australian mare, Viewed.
So You Think – 2010
Not all the big Melbourne Cup flops have been produced by foreign entries. Bart Cumming’s So You Think was so hyped up ahead of the 2010 Melbourne Cup that he started the race as the shortest priced favourite in 40 years. While his four Group 1 wins ahead of the Melbourne Cup were indeed impressive, his many backers failed to take into account the fact that he’d never run a distance over 2040 meters. To his credit, So You Think gave the race everything he had, eventually settling for a respectable 3rd place that nevertheless left millions of punters two places short of a profit.
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