Archer | Winner Of The First Two Melbourne Cups
Archer Winner Of The First Two Ever Melbourne Cups
A fair comparison betwixt horses of different eras is difficult, but fun nonetheless.
Thoroughbreds from the earlier days of racing in Australia had far fewer races from which to select. Scientific and technological training and breeding methods were much less sophisticated in the early days.
Even comparing times from identical distances or even identical events does not account for all the possible variables.
An example of this difficulty presented by comparison of horses from different eras is evident from the case of Archer.
His chief accomplishment would have to be considered the winning of two consecutive Melbourne Cups, those being the first two in 1861 and 1862.
That puts him in the company of only four other horses that can claim multiple wins in Australia’s most prestigious race: Peter Pan, Rain Lover,
Think Big and Makybe Diva, names that must certainly be mentioned when the subject under consideration is great thoroughbreds.
Archer’s winning time for those 2 Cup victories however, would have had him falling short in every other year of Cup history except for 1864.
The all-time record set by Kingston Rule in 1990 would have beaten Archer by over 30 seconds, roughly the same amount of time it requires for Black Caviar to erase any doubt as to the identity of the eventual winner of any race in which she competes.
High Winning Strike Rate
Archer did have a winning strike rate of over 70% as a result of his 12 wins from 17 starts. Ten of those wins were in major events, equal to the number posted by Makybe Diva that had a much lower winning strike rate.
Archer was foaled 1856. He was sired by William Tell and his dam was Maid Of The Oaks. His bloodline was predominantly British, which was certainly typical of that era.
His racing career started out slowly and inauspiciously. He did not run as a two-year-old and as a three-year-old he failed to place in either of the two events in which he contested.
The storyline alters dramatically several months later when Archer became competing as a four-year-old. He reeled off six consecutive wins with John Cutts aboard. Modifications to the racing calendar resulted in archer winning to Randwick Plates as a four-year-old.
Melbourne Cup Win As A 5YO
Archer was five in 1861 when he notched his first Melbourne Cup victory. Even though his time of three minutes and 52 seconds ties him for slowest of all time, he did win by a considerable margin.
In an impressive display of stamina, one that if inconceivable by today’s standards, he ran again the next day, winning the Melbourne Cup Plate, another distance event, that was the conclusion to an unbeaten streak of nine races over the period of 11 months. He concluded his five-year-old campaign with a win in the AJC Queen’s Plate.
When his six-year-old season commenced, weight for age events had Archer carrying 64 kg over a 24 Furlong Geelow course that relegated him to a third-place finish.
This apparent chink in his armour failed to prevent him from winning his second Melbourne Cup in 1862, when carrying even more weight, he left his nearest competitor eight lengths behind. This is the greatest winning margin in the entire history of the Melbourne Cup and it was 60 years before another horse managed two consecutive victories. Archer was tried only one more time in 1862, when he won the All Aged Stakes at Flemington.
As a seven-year-old, Archer ran only once, where he again tackled a 3 mile distance to produce a third place finish at Ballarat.
Racing stewards denied Archer an opportunity to compete in the 1863 Melbourne Cup, claiming that his connections had not submitted his acceptance in time.
Given the dominance he had displayed in the previous 2 Cups, he certainly would have stood a respectable chance of victory in a seven horse field that was the result of many owners protesting Archer’s exclusion.
Archer Retires To Stud
At that point, Archer was retired to stud and received substantial fees, but he did not produce any stakes winners. He died in 1872 after accidentally being permitted to graze in a field of green barley that resulted in a fatal lung inflammation.
Even if Archer should never be recognised with admission into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame, he still has achieved legendary status even if, as is sometimes said, he did not actually walk from Sydney to Melbourne to take place in the inaugural edition of the Melbourne Cup.