Makybe Diva wins Melbourne Cup for third time in a row
MELBOURNE: Makybe Diva, a seven-year-old English-born mare, became the first horse to win Australia’s richest and most famous race three times in a row, scoring a stirring victory in Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup at Flemington.
Carrying a record 58 kilograms (127.6 pounds) for a mare, Makybe Diva, owned by South Australian tuna fisherman Tony Santic, was the favourite in the $3.8 million race over 3,200 meters. Santic said it would be Makybe Diva’s last race and that she would retire. “I think to ask any more of this mare would not be fair,” Santic said. Makybe Diva was ridden by Glen Boss, who was aboard the horse on both previous Cup wins and also rode her to victory 10 days ago in the Cox Plate, a major pre-Melbourne Cup race.
“What a great mare, she’s just unbelievable, and gives you so much confidence,” said an emotional Boss while still aboard Makybe Diva on the track. On A Jeune was second, 1 1-4 lengths back, and Xcellent half a length further back in third. Makybe Diva, which surged to the front with 200 meters (yards) to go, has won 15 of her 36 starts and earned more than $10.8 million in prize money. Makybe Diva was named by taking the first two letters of the names of five women who work in Santic’s tuna factory Maureen, Kylie, Belinda, Diane and Vanessa. Trainer Lee Freedman waited until Tuesday morning to make a final decision on whether Makybe Diva, which does not run well on a hard track, would start.
Flemington officials watered the track on Monday, softening it up slightly and enabling Freedman to give her the start and the horse’s chance at history. “We will never see anything like her again,” Freedman said in the winner’s circle. He agreed with the decision to retire Makybe Diva. “I think it’s a fabulous decision ... to go out on such a winning note,” said Freedman. “It’s been a great ride and I think it’s come to an end in the perfect way.” Boss, who became the first jockey to win the Melbourne Cup three consecutive years, said Tuesday’s race was one of his easiest rides. “She was just cruising, just off the bridle,” Boss said after the postrace weigh-in. “I had such an easy run it was almost like on my bike. This is Phar Lap the second.”
Phar Lap was a legendary Australian horse which won 36 of his 50 starts in four years of racing in the late 1920s and early 1930. He died as a six-year-old in 1932 under questionable circumstances. In 2001, Boss fell hard in a race in Macau which left him in a neck and head brace. He was told he would not be fit to race for a year, but returned after eight months. On Tuesday, Boss eased Makybe Diva over to one off the fence from her 14th starting position the same barrier start she had when she won two years ago and out of the straight for the first time. He made his move with Makybe Diva approaching the home turn and the mare, showing her trademark acceleration, moved past the leading pack.
Irish stallion Vinnie Roe, runner-up last year in the Melbourne Cup and a former Irish St. Leger winner, finished eighth in his final race before retiring to stud. Kindjhal, a former French-trained galloper, was ninth in the 24-horse field. Eye Popper, the first Japanese entry in the Melbourne Cup, was among the leaders but faded to finish 12th with Japanese jockey Shinji Fujita aboard. South African horse Greys Inn was 17th and England’s Distinction 19th. English horse Franklins Garden, which was cleared Monday to race after being in doubt due to a hind leg injury, failed to finish. ap