Being one of the most popular, celebrated, and prestigious equestrian events in the world, The Melbourne Cup, one of the 5 largest horse races in the world, has seen several international horses from various parts of the globe make their way into the race. Ahead of the upcoming Melbourne Cup 2021, a look back at some of the most popular international horses to have raced at the Flemington Racecourse is warranted for horseracing fans.


It should be mentioned that the term international horse in this context refers to thoroughbreds that were bred and trained in another country. Also, Kiwi horses will not be included here, as they are pretty much part of the Australian continent. Keeping these conditions in mind, the following are some of the most successful and famous thoroughbred overseas horses to have ever run at the Melbourne Cup.

Vintage Crop in 1993

The British-bred gelding was trained in Ireland, but the thoroughbred’s most remarkable feat came in Australia, at the 1993 Melbourne Cup. Kinan rode the gelding to victory, making Vintage Crop the first ever international horse to win the Melbourne Cup. He left behind far more successful racehorses such as Subzero and The Phantom.

Media Puzzle in 2002

It took nine years for an international horse to win the Melbourne Cup again, after Vintage Crop’s win in 1993. Media Puzzle was a gelding as well, bred in the United States and trained by the Irish (D. K. Weld). The horse was awarded the prestigious Australian Champion Stayer Award in 2003 for his performance at both the Geelong Cup (2.4km) and the Melbourne Cup (3.2km) in 2002.

Delta Blues in 2006

Delta Blues was only the third international horse to ever win the Melbourne Cup, but more importantly, he was also the:

  • First stallion from overseas to win the race, and the only Japan-bred and trained horse to ever win the cup.
  • First and only Japanese horse to win the Australian Champion Stayer Award (2006 – 07).

Americain in 2010

Bred in the United States of America and trained in France under Alain de Royer-Dupré, Americain was the first American-bred, French-trained horse to win the Melbourne Cup in 2010. The mighty stallion was ridden to the finish line by French jockey Gérald Mossé. They managed to pull it off at the historic equestrian event’s 150th anniversary, beating the Australian Champion Three-Year-Old, So You Think (3rd), and the legendary Maluckyday (2nd).

Dunaden in 2011

It was French domination for two years in a row in 2011 when the French-born and trained Dunaden was steered to victory by Christophe Lemaire. Dunaden had already won the Geelong Cup by the time it was time for him to race at the Melbourne Cup. In fact, the stallion is one of the only few international horses in Australia to have remained undefeated throughout the year since Dunaden also won the Caulfield Cup later in 2011. As expected, Dunaden became an undisputed winner of the 2011 – 12 Australian Champion Stayer Award.

Protectionist in 2014

Protectionist is a purebred German stallion, who was also trained in Germany by Andreas Wöhler. As you can imagine, no other German purebred had won the Melbourne Cup before, until Protectionist came along to break the trend. He was jockeyed by the famous Ryan Moore from England during the race. Although it was his only major win that year, he still managed to win the prestigious 2014 – 15 Australian Champion Stayer Award.

Rekindling and Cross Counter: 2017 and 2018 Respectively

After Americain and Dunaden, Rekindling and Cross Counter were the second set of international horses to take the Melbourne Cup, two years in a row in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Rekindling is a British-bred and Irish-trained stallion, and he was guided to a glamorous win by the Australian jockey Corey Brown.

Cross Counter, on the other hand, is a British racehorse owned by the king of UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and British-trained by Charlie Appleby. The gelding won the very next Melbourne Cup in 2018 while riding with the Australian jockey, Kerrin McEvoy.

Twilight Payment in 2020

If you are staying up to date with the latest Melbourne Cup tips and predictions, then you probably know that the Irish-bred and trained eight-year-old Twilight Payment is unlikely to be able to defend his title from 2020. Nevertheless, Twilight Payment’s namesake win at the age of 7+ is astounding as it is.

The only other horse to have ever won the Melbourne Cup at 7+ was Catalogue (1938), and no other horse other than Might and Power has ever managed to keep a lead from the start to finish like the Irish gelding did last year.