Crio’s Question?….first memories

An obvious poser this week….earliest memories of The Cup.

It seems most people recall their “first time”.

Mine’s a bit murky – I can’t recall ever not hearing The Cup.

Probably the nuns at Our Lady Of Fatima had it on for us in Gr 1-3. And I’m pretty confident that when I moved to Sacred Heart for the rest of my schooling the Brothers made sure that classes stopped and the race was broadcast over the PA.

One early recollection is the story sweeping the schoolyard at recess when Big Philou was nobbled and scratched (that’s 1969).

It was an era when the Cup had a keen following in SA with Bart’s wins (65,66,67) and then Mick Robins and Jimmy Johnson had a double with Rain Lover.

No public holiday, but in my childhood the Cup was still a big day.

Who else has early Cup memories to share?


  1. Rain Lover in 68 and 69 is my earliest memory of the Cup winners. As you say Crio, Bart and other SA trainers had a good trot in that era.
    My strongest memory of the early days is running the school book in 1972. I had seen school bookies unable to pay out when the results went the wrong way, so I latched onto John Wren’s idea of running a tote. (70/20/10% for the winner and placegetters I think – I wasn’t greedy like Collingwood’s benefactor).
    The Headmaster (Mr Sparrow – “Spoggie”) found out and took a dim view. I was the Head Prefect and he was a lay preacher.
    He ordered me to stay back and write 200 lines for punishment.
    I was so disgusted at his narrow view of the “One Day of the Year” that I wrote a much longer essay on wowserism, that enraged him and made me a school hero for a day.
    It was the start of my creative writing career.
    Alas, the punt continued to exact its punishment for the next 30 years.
    Mr Sparrow was right.

  2. I can’t remember not remembering the Gup. But my first win was Van Der Hum in 1976. Thanks to a tip from my dearly departed QLD uncle.

  3. Van Der Hum was an especially awful memory for me.
    Finally the dominant bookies had left school and I was the head honcho.
    I employed some “partners” and got to school early to issue them markets and the receipt books for bets (5c minimum I recall).
    Alas, I thus missed news of the downpour and market flucs that ensued. I’m sure we had 2 shocking losers when we gathered to tally the book an ally who looked 18 was dispatched to Vic Park to lay off (these recollections are vivid but seem exaggerated by time…).
    Several of us retired to a nearby house to watch the race and receive news that Van Der Hum was unbackably short and so we’d not “saved”.
    Crestfallen I snuck back to class.
    The Brother sternly called me to his desk.
    “Riordan”, he suggested, presenting a ticket,” better pay me first before you run out”.
    Several so-called mates failed to honour their commitments, but I copped the whack.

  4. cowshedend says

    Crio, same story and outcome for me with Gold and Black emptying my bag.
    First Cup memory was as a 5 yo standing in Footscray Park with 50000 of my nearest and dearest friends overlooking Flemington booting my beloved Tobin Bronze home, unfortunately Bert Bryant shouting Galilee out of dad’s crackling tranny would send me home disappointed

  5. Scotchman’s Hill?

    I seem to remember getting up and listening to Tobin Bronze’s first race in USA – would that be right?

  6. Pamela Sherpa says

    Can remember listening to the Cup since the beginning of primary school at Gunbower Island in country Vic. Our teacher Mr Lucas. would ‘test’ the speakers, once a year, on Cup day . You could hear a pin drop when the race started and we had to refrain from yelling out during the exciting closing stage of the race so we could hear the result. After the race Mr Lucas would neatly write the first 3 placegetters on the blackboard. Have always loved the atmosphere of Cup day. Cannot remember who won the first time I listened -would have been 1959.

  7. Slightly before my time Pamela but i think Macdougal won in 59. My first memory was Rain Lover’s 2nd Cup in 69 when he fell in against the lightweight Alsop. Clearly recall the ‘rumour” spreading the school yard that Big Philou had been scratched which put a dampener on that particular victory,
    Crio, once Jock and i had left school that left the way clear for you and your cohorts to take over. I do remember listening to Tobin Bronze run a place behind Sailor’s Guide in the Washington DC international (circa 1968).
    Shocking result in 72 when Piping Lane won the Cup. Was running a “sweep” and gave the last 2 tickets (Piping Lane and Tipping Time) away for the price of one to one of the brothers. Tipping Time won the Grand National the next year I reckon and was one of the best jumpers to go around.

  8. Phil Dimitriadis says

    1975. Dad took the whole family along and we listened to the Hawking Brothers on the lawn. Think Big won, we lost and walking away we got splattered in mud by some hoons doing burnouts in the carpark. Happy days.

  9. Tim Ladhams says

    1991. Pom on a one year working holiday visa living in Sydney. $58 return bus ticket to Melbourne, arriving Derby Day morning. Find a hostel between the needles and the streetwalkers in Fitzroy Street then a couple of trams out to the track. Rapan Boy wins the second for Sydney at 5-2 but Euclase turned over at odds on by a previously unheralded Umatilla in the next. Let’s Elope wins the Mackinnon at a short price, one of David Hayes’ many runners the Dalgety at any-price-you-like (may have been Maharajah?). England lose the World Cup final to Campo et al at Twickenham.

    Make the cardinal error and drink far too much, far too early, on cup day. Back Ivory Way of Hayes in the Cup who is in front at the clock tower but gets swallowed up. Back at the hostel p****d and broke by the time they jump in the last. Back to Sydney, and furniture removals, the following day….

  10. Peter Fuller says

    As promised (threatened?) at lunch today:
    The first Cup I was aware of was Wodalla (1953). I don’t think I listened to the race, but remember being at the store in the neighbouring town, when somebody reported the winner. I certainly heard Rising Fast’s (1954), and your reference to Catholic schools jogs the memory of listening through the 50s. The first delayed telecast I saw was Macdougal, which Budge correctly identified as the 1959 winner.
    Later, I can remember sitting uni exams on multiple occasions, while the Cup was run. I certainly recall the occasion when the exam supervisor inscribed the names of Rain Lover and the placings on the chalk-board with the progress of time left for the exam’s completion.
    The first direct telecast I can remember watching was Silver Knight (you beauty, a rare winner for me) in 1971.
    When Think Big beat Leilani in 1974, I was working in a Government office in Canberra. A television set was produced (may even have been some-one’s brought from home).
    Very few problems recalling where I was for any given year, where I heard or watched the race.
    We were one of those families, where events were marked/remembered by whose year it was. For example my sister – who passionately loathes racing – was born on Cup eve in Comic Court’s year.
    I also have a bookmaking experience from my schooldays. While it wasn’t quite as costly as yours, Crio, Even Stevens’ win as favourite (1962) saw my bookmaking
    career drowned at birth financially, even before the intervention of legitimate authority in the form of the head teacher.

  11. The first time I went to the cup was in 1976. My father took me and my brother and we got absolutely drenched. I’ve never seen so much water in my life. We got soaked totally. We went home after the cup soaked to the skin and… I loved every minute of it. I still do. The Day of the year. Bring it on!!

  12. First one I was aware of was Tawriffic’s win in 1989, where the memory was not of the horse crossing the line or beating the great Super Impose, but of a riderless horse bolting after the winning post sounding like (but not named) Sarspirella or something like that.

    I do however remember missing school for the wins of Kingston Rule, Let’s Elope and Saintly. Listened to Subzero’s win and watched Vintage Crop’s, Jeune’s and Doreimus’ at school). Intriguingly at the time of Saintly’s win, Darwin (where I was at the time) only had a single commercial channel (Channel 8, now Channel 9 Darwin), plus SBS that had only been on air in the top end for about a year and ABC. I believe straight after the Cup presentation the coverage went off and back to a kids show (either Heathcliffe or Tom and Jerry Kids). Never been to the Cup itself, or for that matter to any Gallops program since Kingston Rule’s win (the old boy was on Mr Brooker who ran 3rd from memory).

    First ever bet was on the 2002 cup, can’t remember who I backed though. Haven’t backed a winner in the Cup since Shocking.

  13. First cup I attended was a beauty. Jeune saluted. in 1994 with my money on board (possibly my first on course bet too – slightly underage). It was really wet, but a small group of us wandered up to the trainers and jockey’s stand, nodded at the attendant and walked straight in without appropriate ticketing. Reckon Jeune hit the front right in front of us. Sensational.

  14. crio, I can vouch for the Brothers halting classes and broadcasting the Cup over the PA – always being told to “shut up” while the race was on so they could, no doubt, hear clearly whether their ‘Holy Investment’ for the good of the community was going to come in.

  15. Dennis Gedling says

    Being given ‘What a nuisance’ in the sweep at school in 1986. Was perhaps being told something. I remember the teachers going spare at the finish too so they must have had more than emotional investment in the race.

  16. Peter Flynn says


    Sailor’s Guide would’ve been about 16-17 years of age in 1968.

  17. Terry Towelling says

    Coming from a horsey/punting family the Cup has always been around in my life, although I was more attracted to the red hots as a youngster.

    I do have a vivid recollection from teen years, though. Sitting a year 9 end-of-year exam, and Mr Hardie, who was doing the invigilating, absented himself for a few moments, about 20 minutes before the end. He then walked back into the room, and in large capital letters chalked the following up on the board:


  18. Terry, that haunting image disturbs me – I still get upset about that day. KT should’ve brained them. I never forgave Mick Dittman (ironically, rather than “Miracle”)

  19. Galilee was the first cup winner I can remember. Would have been about 7 at the time and the family still living in Melbourne.I can clearly remember listening to it in the car with the old man.

    Haven’t backed a cup winner since Kensei and my only other winner was Just a Dash, would have been better off repeating matric 30 times and being the “dominant” bookie.

  20. Peter Flynn says

    Sitting a thermodynamics exam on Cup Day 1985 was a lowlight.

    Who cares about entropy when you’ve got your life savings on Koiro Corrie Mae.

    It was even worse when the invigilator whispered to me that it had been nutted.

    The Punter to Punter team had an alternative name and breeding which is still hilarious.

  21. Rain Lover the second time. Doing the sweep beforehand in our kictchen. Did Tails run – I might have got him?

  22. Flynny you are correct. I looked it up and Tobin Bronze ran third to Fort Marcy in Washington DC International in 1967 Which was only a month after his Cox Plate win. Interesting that Sailor’s Guide, another Australian horse, did actually win the same race but in 1958.

  23. Tails was the Tie The Knot of his time only not as good. Always seemed to be one of the favourites come Cups time and I don’t recall him winning anything down here.

  24. Budge, are you prepared to declare your scam re selling the last tickets in Cup sweeps? – I believe it involved showing that a fav was still undrawn but having that card safely ungettable for the vulnerable! statute of limitations has expired. Bet responsibly!

  25. Brilliant topic Crio. My first memory was a fine day in 1976, my first cup. I was on cloud nine. I remember seeing the horse Grand Scale in the birdcage and a man outside his stall with a gun in the holster. No kidding! It was only seven years after Big Philou’s nobbling, but I didn’t know that at the time. I backed Battle Heights because I loved all the older horses. Anyway, we felt fine, but then it rained. I had never seen so much rain, but it didn’t damper my enthusiasm one iota. I was totally intoxicated by the colour, the movement, the fashion, the horses, and I can’t wait to go tomorrow to see my 31st cup. I was enthrall end at age nine, and nothing has changed. Racing is still king in my eyes. The cup really is the greatest day on the calendar for all Melbourne and probably Australia. Have a great day everyone wherever you see the cup

  26. Crio, in the immortal words of Alan Bond ” I don’t recall”

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