We all know the Melbourne Cup is Australia’s most famous and prestigious horse race on the annual racing calendar, and over the years there have been many champion horses and jockeys competing in the race.

We also hear quite a lot about the trainers who are responsible for producing such legendary racehorses.

The Melbourne Cup dates way back to 1861, so while we hear a lot of chatter about modern day trainers, what about some of those early champions?

In this post we’ll take a look at some of the best trainers to win the Melbourne Cup, both recently and from the past.

Etienne L. de Mestre

The first ever official running of the Melbourne Cup was won by a horse named Archer and ridden by jockey, John Cutts. Archer was both leased and trained by Etienne L. de Mestre, a trainer who dominated Australian horse racing in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s.

Not only was he the trainer of Archer for the first Melbourne Cup victory, but he won with Archer again the following year. He has the claim to fame of being the first trainer to win the Melbourne Cup, and the first trainer to win it two years in a row.

In total Mestre won the event 5 times during his career.

Walter Hickenbotham

Walter Hickenbotham was originally a jockey who decided to try his hand at racehorse training back in the 1880s. For Walter this proved to be a very shrewd move, as he went on to become one of the country’s top trainers of the era.

Hickenbotham was known as a man who really loved his horses, and that showed through in his success on the track. In total he managed to win Australia’s greatest race a total of 4 times, with horses Mentor, Carbine, Newhaven and Blue Spec, in a career than spanned three decades.

James Scobie

Scobie was another champion trainer of the early era of the Melbourne Cup, having trained 4 Melbourne Cup horses to victory. He often was criticised for his unusual training methods, where he would put his racehorses through both track work as well as jumping exercises. The methods worked though, as not only did he win the Melbourne Cup 4 times, but was majorly successful in other prestigious races as well.

Bart Cummings

Bart Cummings is a name synonymous with the Melbourne Cup. Everybody has heard of him and for many years it seemed like he was the winning trainer every time the race was run. He’s known as the “cups king”.

In total he’s trained the winning horse in the Melbourne cup 12 times, an incredible achievement. Bart had 7 wins during the 1960s and 1970s, then failed to win the great race in the 1980s. He bounced back big during the 1990s though, claiming victory 4 more times.

His most famous Cup victories were likely the two in 1974 and 1975, when his champion horse Think Big won the race two years running.

Lee Freedman

Bart Cummings was Lee Freedman’s idol, and the champion trainer always strived to emulate Bart’s massive success on and off the track.

Freedman is best known for training Makybe Diva to 2 out of his 3 consecutive Melbourne Cup victories in 2004 and 2005 (Makybe Diva also won in 2003 under another trainer).

That wasn’t Freedman’s first taste of Cup glory though, as he trained the winner of the 1989 Melbourne Cup winner, Tawriffic.

In total Freedman claimed 5 Melbourne Cup victories throughout his distinguished career.

Gai Waterhouse

Gai entered the world of racehorse training when it was totally dominated by men. Since then she has established herself as one of the best and most successful trainers Australia has ever seen.

She is the daughter of legendary trainer, Tommy J. Smith, and at the age of 15 she started helping her father and learned everything there is to know about training champion racehorses.

She became the first Australian female trainer to produce a Melbourne Cup winning horse in 2013 with Fiorente.

While she currently only has one Melbourne Cup victory in the trophy cabinet her career goes on, so she looks set to win the race again in the near future.