Vintage Crop – Europe’s first Melbourne Cup winner

They call it the race that stops a nation, and the Melbourne Cup certainly lives up to its name with well over one million people tuning in from all around the globe every year. It is so important to the Australian nation that the day of the race is now a bank holiday in many parts of the country.

In recent times, it is not just Australia that comes to a standstill, as fans from around the world tune in to follow their country’s horses that have been sent down under to compete in the Southern hemisphere’s premium horse race.

The Melbourne Cup is now a global phenomenon and European trainers, in particular, are desperate to add the big race trophy to their collection.

Melbourne Cup. Credit:
Melbourne Cup. Credit:

Europe Takes On The Aussies

The Melbourne Cup captures the imagination of the racing public every year, and you can visit to find out everything you need to know about ‘the race that stops a nation’.

There you will find a huge array of information on Melbourne Cups past and present, including those runners and riders that have been lucky enough to win Australia’s greatest racing spectacle.

Below we are going to take a look at the first European horse to have added its name to the prestigious winner’s list – the now legendary, Vintage Crop.

Vintage Crop

It was once beyond the realms of possibility to believe that a European-based horse could win the Melbourne Cup. Having a horse good enough to win the 3200-meter contest was a huge task, but when the logistics of getting that horse to Australia were factored in, it was considered an impossible task.

Step forward Irish trainer, Dermot Weld, and his now legendary horse, Vintage Crop. 

An average-looking chestnut gelding with a small white star on his face and three white socks, Vintage Crop was nothing special to look at, and his early career did not indicate the heights that he would reach in later years.

Trained by Dermot Weld in the hub of Irish flat racing, the Curragh, Vintage Crop’s first experiences of life on the track actually came as a jump racer. After a mildly successful time of it over obstacles, he was eventually tasked with becoming a flat racing stayer, and would quickly rise through the ranks to challenge at a high level in his native land and across the Irish Sea in Britain.

It would be in 1993 that the now 7-year-old would take the racing world by storm, first winning the first of his two Curragh Cup victories, followed closely by his first Group 1 win in the Irish St Leger. Next up for Vintage Crop and his wily trainer, was the unthinkable trip down under to compete in the Melbourne Cup.

Ridden by Irish jockey, Mick Kinane, Vintage Crop would show amazing courage and unyielding stamina reserves in Melbourne, powering past his rivals on the run to the line and eventually winning easily to etch his name into the horse racing history books.

It was a phenomenal effort by the horse, jockey, and trainer, and it would also pave the way for future European horses to be successful in the Melbourne Cup. Weld himself would taste victory in the race once more in 2002 with the talented, Media Puzzle.

As for Vintage Crop, the history maker would attempt to win the big race on two more occasions, finishing 7th in 1994, before bringing the curtain down on his career with a 3rd place finish the following year.

He would spend his retirement years in the Irish National Stud, and after passing away at the ripe old age of 27, a statue of the history maker was erected at the Curragh Racecourse to honor the achievements of one of flat racing’s biggest stars.

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