Will more Irish legend be written at the Melbourne Cup?

Can someone follow Vintage Crop, Media Puzzle, Rekindling and Twilight Payment in the 'race that stops a nation'

Monday, November 01, 2021
Melbourne Cup Rekindling

Rekindling, trained by Joseph O'Brien, was the third Irish trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup

Irish racing fans will get up early or stay up very late to enjoy the 'race that stops a nation', writes James Toney.

The €5million handicap, the world's richest, has a storied history dating back to 1861 and Irish trainers have triumphed on four occasions, with Twilight Payment delivering Joseph O'Brien his second win 12 months ago.

Here's a look back at those successes - and one famous near miss.

Weld makes history with first non-Australian trained winner

There’s a statue to remember the achievements of Vintage Crop, who became the first overseas-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup in 1993.

Trainer Dermot Weld knew he had a contender for Flemington when he won the Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket - and so it proved.

Indeed 1993 - his six-year old season - started with a sixth place finish in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, before Weld returned attention towards a flat campaign.

Mick Kinane took the ride Down Under and with a brilliantly patient performance, surging clear in the closing stages, winning by three lengths to make history. 
Dermot does it again with emotional Media Puzzle triumph

Nine years after Vintage Crop, Weld trained Media Puzzle to what was an emotional victory.

Jockey Damien Oliver’s brother Jason died just a week before the race but he took the ride and dedicated the victory to his sibling. The story was later made into a film, with Weld played by Harry Potter actor Brendon Gleeson. Media Puzzle became the first horse to win the Geelong Cup - which he did in record time - and then the Melbourne Cup 13 days later, with American and Dunaden completing the feat in subsequent years.
Heartbreak for Tony Martin's popular stable star

It's a well-known Aussie sporting expression that no-one remembers the horse that came second in the Melbourne Cup - Heartbreak City is the fair dinkum' exception to that rule.

Tony Martin's horse was edged out by the narrowest of margins in a dramatic finish, the time on the clock the fastest for four decades. And the reaction of Irish owner Aidan Shiels became a viral hit.
Exclusive interview: Martin remembers the Melbourne Cup heartbreak of Heartbreak City

Age no barrier for Joseph as Rekindling leads Irish 1-2-3

There isn't much Aidan O'Brien hasn't won but son Joseph, then aged just 24, can always claim to have trained a Melbourne Cup winner before his father.

Ridden by Cory Brown, the horse edged out dad Aidan's Johannes Vermeer in a thrilling finish while Max Dynamite completed a 1-2-3 for Irish horses. It was Joseph's first runner in the race and he became the youngest-ever Melbourne Cup winning trainer.

“It’s the perfect result,” said Aidan, father first and trainer second. “I was hoping and praying we’d finish second all the way up the home straight. I was delighted that was the way it turned out.”

O'Brien at the double with brilliant victory

Mobility, optimism, inventiveness and a willingness to accept innovation are defined as the key characteristic of a good frontiersmen, which sums up Joseph O’Brien’s mercurial approach to his still fledgling training career.

Twilight Payment produced a brilliant display of front running as O’Brien scored the fourth ever Irish success in the race, joining Dermot Weld as a two-time winner of the two-mile race.

READ: Young buck O'Brien makes history again

It meant that O’Brien’s father Aidan continued his wait for an elusive first win in the world’s richest turf handicap. In a repeat of 2017 he settled for second behind his son. Tiger Moth (5-1) ran a huge race from an outside draw but simply ran out of turf to chase down Twilight Payment, losing by a half-length.



Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such a magnificent appeal to the whole nation. The Melbourne Cup astonishes me.
- Mark Twain, writing in 1897