The Greatest Melbourne Cup Trainers of all Time

By Captain Thomsen on 28 Feb 2019

Melbourne Cup trainers

Winning the Melbourne Cup is one of the most impressive feats a racehorse trainer can achieve in their career. The world's greatest flat stayer's race has eluded some of the greatest trainers in the history of thoroughbred racing while other trainers have developed a knack for picking the right horses for the Cup, taking multiple wins.

Here's our pick of the greatest Melbourne Cup trainers of all time.

Bart Cummings

Even if another trainer finds themselves in possession of a horse of the caliber of Makybe Diva, it would be hard to see them breaking Bart Cummings record of 12 Melbourne Cup wins. Cummings won the Melbourne Cup with 11 different horse between 1965 and 2008. Only one of his horses, Think Big, managed to win the race more than once. After winning seven Melbourne Cup titles in the 1960s and 1970s, Cummings failed to win the race once in the 1980s, but bounced back in the 1990s, winning four of the Melbourne Cup races run that decade despite narrowly avoiding bankruptcy during the recession. He was given a state funeral following his death in 2015.

Etienne L. de Mestre

Etienne de Mestre's career as a racing trainer was played out a century before that of Cummings. de Mestre was the dominant trainer in Australian racing in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s, and his successes in the sport extended to the Melbourne Cup. He was also the first trainer ever to win the Melbourne Cup, claiming victory in the first two races in 1861 and 1862 with Archer. He waited five years before taking his third win with Tim Whiffler, and claimed two more Melbourne Cup titles in the 1870s. Unfortunately some risky property investments cost de Mestre his fortune later in life and it required a benefit race meeting to raise funds for his comfortable retirement.

Lee Freedman

Lee Freedman is the first trainer on this list still active in racing. He's best known as the trainer of Makybe Diva, who he took over after her first Melbourne Cup win and subsequently trained to two more victories. However, Makybe Diva did not provide Freedman with his first win in the race. The trainer claimed his first race title in 1989 with Tawriffic before claiming a second title in 1992 and a third in 1995. Following the great success of his sprinter Miss Andretti in the 2006-07 season Friedman struggled to get results in Australian racing. He went into temporary retirement in 2011, coming out of it in 2017 to train racehorses in Singapore.

Colin Hayes

Colin Hayes' achievements are modest compared to those of Bart Cummings, but his prowess as a trainer extended well beyond the Melbourne Cup. He took the Melbourne Cup twice in the 1980s, and was the most successful Melbourne Cup trainer of that decade, winning it with Beldale Ball in 1980 and then At Talaq in 1986. He also won several other major Victorian races, including three Cox Plate titles and a Caulfield Cup. In 2018 Hayes was posthumously inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame as a Legend, becoming only the third trainer to achieve this honour.

If you enjoyed this article, read our guide to the Greatest Stayers of All Time.

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