Many New Zealanders will have a favourite memory from Australia's Melbourne Cup, the horse race which claims to "stop a nation" every first Tuesday in November.

It might involve a long lunch, a workplace sweepstake or a random stab to pick a winner from the annual Herald lift-out which pertains to know everything about how the famous 3200m will unfold.

A lucky few get to go.

Nostalgia for a certain vintage of the population will centre on Kiwi's surge from second-to-last to win the 1983 edition with homegrown jockey Jim Cassidy in the saddle.


The feat has assumed mythical proportions in New Zealand folkore. Cassidy stunned the equine fraternity and the average punter as he threaded the chestnut gelding through the field.

Few horse races capture such magical moments better.

Melbourne Cup: runner-by-runner guide
Melbourne Cup: a short history

Take New Zealand chestnut mare Empire Rose holding off Natski to win in 1988; Jezabeel pipping Champagne in 1998; or commentator Greg Miles' 2005 call of "a champion become a legend" when Makybe Diva became the first horse to win the Cup three years straight.

In addition, few sporting interviews hold as much allure than when a microphone is thrust in front of the winning jockey.

The outpouring of emotion is as compelling as the race.

Last year was Kerrin McEvoy's turn after he recorded his second win, 16 years apart, on Almandin.

"Gee, he travelled well. How lucky am I, mate? The elation is unreal."

McEvoy dedicated a segment of his chat to his pregnant wife.

"Cathy's at home, I love you guys. Hope you didn't cheer too loudly and the baby popped out," he beamed as his mount ambled towards the winners' circle.

McEvoy's sister-in-law Michelle Payne created a stir in 2015 when she spoke about becoming the first woman to ride a winner in the race's 156th edition. Prince of Penzance, at 100-1, had the longest winning odds since World War II.

Payne's candour astounded after her dismount.

"To think that [trainer] Darren [Weir] has given me a go in such a chauvinistic sport, I know some of the owners were keen to keep me off and [co-owner] John Richards and Darren stuck really solid with me.

"Everyone else can get stuffed because they think women aren't strong enough, but we just beat the world."

Another cracking chat came with Chris Munce on Jezabeel.

He all but leapt out of the saddle when interviewer Johnny Letts rode alongside.

"I've got great friends in Brisbane who couldn't be here, this is for you guys. To my family at home on the rivers, to my beewt-iful wife and children at home watching: I love youse all... and we got it."

This writer attended the Cup in 2006. Perhaps it hints at his level of sobriety that despite being stationed on a picnic rug 20m shy of the finishing post, he had to google that Delta Blues pipped Pop Rock by a nose. However, he can recall that his lazy $5 on the nose of Mandela came to nowt.

Regardless, the day provides an indelible album of memories.

I had flown in from covering a cricket tour of India. Fortunately an advance party of mates had set up camp on prime Flemington real estate.

Following a Clark Kent-type transformation at a chum's apartment, the family suit was unveiled after weeks in subcontinental captivity. It was time to stride to Flinders St Station.

Downtown Melbourne on Cup day oozes glamour. The hairdressing, fashion, food and beverage industries must count down the days before spring carnival fever takes hold.

Men don suits which could have had them swaggering from the pages of GQ. Women totter on stilt-like heels which hold their Achilles tendons to ransom. A kaleidoscope of dresses and fascinators waft amid bespoke tailoring and polished brogues.

Much of this sartorial elegance has unravelled by race seven on the card, but no one should be docked points for trying as they embark on the 45-minute north-west train journey to Flemington.

Reviewing the 2006 footage online, you'd swear Melbourne was basking in a balmy spring day. In reality it felt like Antarctica had moved in beyond the Maribyrnong River. Jackets became prime currency. Chivalrous blokes with chattering teeth pined for a seat inside the grandstand... or at least a dram of single malt as the southerly breeze stiffened.

Fortunately the thundering hooves, the crowd's kinetic energy and sporadic hauls off the bookies provided enough incentive to drop anchor.

A melee ensued as the three-handled Cup - one each for jockey, owner and trainer - was presented. The waning mix of unlucky punters, unrequited lovers and thirsty pre-loaders resembled a B-grade Shakespearean production. That scene was offset by winners striding to the tote.

The return journey was less memorable as a squall of jaded hedonists prepared to plunder the CBD. However, a hearty feed of tapas at Movida and a chocolate martini nestled in Gin Palace's cushioned armchairs provided the perfect footnote to one of sport's red letter days.