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Makybe Diva: Queen of the Cup Showcase at NSM

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by Tricia Ziemer (subscribe)
Television Producer & Photojournalist with a passion for sharing adventures in and around Melbourne, Australia. See my for other adventures. Subscribe to me so I can tell you of upcoming fab things not to miss.
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Don't miss the story of Makybe Diva's Race into History
The Melbourne Cup
The Melbourne Cup on display at National Sports Museum at the MCG

It's the season, it's the month, it's the day, it's the moment that the nation stops. The crowds hush waiting with expectation, the jockeys and strappers tighten and straighten gear. The horses jimmy for position to get into the gates. The horses and jockeys are poised. They are pumped and they want to win. This is the Melbourne Cup; the "Race that Stops the Nation". And they are off, hoofs thundering, the thrill of the chase felt by all. The long race, over 3200 meters, has started. Only the horses who have the strongest and truest of hearts even get a chance to join the field. One famous Australian horse, with a huge heart, was Phar Lap. His heart was remarkable for its size, weighing 6.2 kilograms (14 lb), compared with a normal horse's heart at 3.2 kilograms (7.1 lb). He won the Melbourne Cup in 1930.

Makybe Diva Melbourne Cup Winners 3 years straight
Makybe Diva Queen of the CUP in Australian Racing

But today we honour the "Lady" of the Melbourne Cup, three time winner Makybe Diva. She won in 2003, 2004, and 2005 to record crowds urging her on. Not only is she the only horse to win three Melbourne Cups, she did it consecutively over three years. She is also 1 of only 14 mares to win the Melbourne Cup. We adopted Makybe Diva into our hearts as Australians, but she is an immigrant, as many of us are, being British bred to sire "Desert King" winner of the Irish Derby and "Tugela", who was bought for 60,000 guineas in 1998. Born at the Britton House Stud, Somerset at 12:05 am on the 21 of March 1999, this little foal went on to achieve great things as her story unfolded and she moved to Australia. Her trainer David Hall, matched her with jockey Glen Boss, after she finished as a 14-1 outsider in the Caulfield Cup in 2003. Coming from near last with 800 meters to go she finished fourth behind the Lee Freedman-trained "Mummify". Starting the Melbourne Cup, as an $8 second favourite, Makybe Diva raced at the back of the field until the finishing straight, where jockey Glen Boss picked his way through the field to win by one-and-a-half lengths. Lee Freedman watched with excitement and then took over her training.

This girl had heart and the ladies of Australian fell in love with her and started to flock back to the racing tracks, in all their finery, in the years following. Makybe Diva liked a wet track, and she tore home in 2004 to take the Melbourne Cup in driving rain and made it look easy. She became one of 5 horses to have ever won the cup twice, and the only mare.

Assistant Curator Megan Rowland with Exhibition
Assistant Curator Megan Rowland with Exhibition

In her final victory in 2005, she was carrying 58 kg which was 2 kg above the standard weight-for-age scale. They weren't even sure she would run as the track was dry, but the VRC decided to water the track and she was good to go.
Again, Glen Boss held her running at the back of the field, then she steadily made ground before hitting the lead with around 300 meters remaining and won by one-and-a fourth lengths. After the race, trainer Lee Freedman was heard to say:

Go find the smallest child on this course, and there will be the only example of a person who will live long enough to see that again."

She loved the chase. Makybe Diva has now stepped into history and the hearts of Australians as the "Queen" of Australian racing. By the time she retired, she had won over 14 million dollars. She also won multiple trophies, awards and has had a statue sculpted in her honour.

And right now, as the Spring Carnival is in full swing, you have a chance to learn about her first hand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground at the "National Sports Museum" in the "Champions: Thoroughbred Racing Gallery".

Glen Boss and Lee Freedman have loaned her colours and trophies to the Museum, for a limited time, for the public to be able to revel once again in her triumph.

So on those gloomy days, when indoor activities for family and friends are the go. This is the must see display of the season, especially as the Spring Racing Carnival is on the hop and racing is in the air.

Carbine Holograph
Carbine Holograph

And the kids love the interactive displays and the holograph of Carbine as it recreates his race using his skeleton. How did it get back to Melbourne from Europe? Visit this fab exhibition to find out how.

Bart Cummings
Bart Cummings Famous Trainer - the "Cups King"

Learn more about Trainer Bart Cummings, who has unfortunately passed away just this year, after a phenomenal racing career. He himself is one of the greatest men of Australian Racing and is known at the "Cups King". I myself have won money on many a race over the years, just by backing his horses.

Darby McCarthy
The Great Aboriginal Jockey Darby McCarthy

The exhibition also highlights our Aboriginal Jockeys who have taken horses to victory over the years with the display on "Darby McCarthy".

Melbourne Cricket Ground National Sports Museum
Melbourne Cricket Ground

I was so excited when the Melbourne Cricket Club organised a visit for me. And it was so easy to get to the Museum. Parking was quick on Jolimont Terrace, with metered parking, for around $4.00 and I could use credit card. Don't you love a pay pass tap. How long before coins are obsolete? And the train station is right there too. Then it was a quick stroll to Gate 3, as the rain pattered gently around me.

National Sports Museum
National Sports Museum Open 10-5 bring a Picnic or Food available

And $55 gives the whole family the chance to explore this wonderful exhibition and school packages are available. You do not want to miss this slice of history including the older "fashions on the field".

Racing Fashions
Racing Fashions of Melbourne's Spring Carnival

I feel it would be wonderful, to not only have a "ladies" day at Oak's Day, but a "Vintage Day" to celebrate all the wonderful outfits and horses that have gone before and have given their hearts to us as we have given our hearts to them.

Megan Rowland Assistant Curator National Sports Museum
Megan Rowland Assistant Curator National Sports Museum

I asked Megan Rowland, Assistant Curator of Exhibitions, "Why is Makybe Diva at the top of our list of racing greats.She replied, "Melbourne Cup is the greatest race in Australia and it stops the nation. It was first run in 1861 and has had such a rich history having been run for 154 years! And only 1 horse has won it 3 times and won it 3 consecutive times. And she is only 1 of 5 horses to win it twice and she is the only mare. It is a remarkable feat. One thing that really stands out with Makybe Diva's story, is it captured the hearts and imagination of Australians whether they were at the races, listening on the radio, or watching the television. They knew they were seeing history in the making. Makybe Diva created a legacy that 10 years down the track has not diminished in the hearts and minds of Australians and that is what makes what she accomplished such a remarkable feat."

I could not agree with her more. This display is only on for a limited time, so make sure you are in the field and don't miss the race.
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Why? To Learn about the Queen of Australian Racing
When: From now till April 2016
Phone: (03) 9657 8879
Where: Melbourne Cricket Ground - National Sports Museum
Cost: $55 for a family pass and School Packages
Your Comment
Congratulations on the competition win. It's a great article for a great lady of the track.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|7002) 1411 days ago
Congratulations winning first place.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12457) 1411 days ago
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