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Season Wrap: Melbourne Cup Carnival 2021

A full wrap up of the Melbourne Cup Carnival of 2021.

After a COVID interrupted two years, the Melbourne Cup Carnival of 2021 was back in full force and punters were not left disappointed. Breathtaking races, heartwarming stories and triumphant results encapsulated the feeling of the Carnival this year.

Verry Elleegant stole the show, claiming the Melbourne Cup for 2021 in a race that without a doubt stopped the nation. The victory was also champion trainer Chris Waller’s maiden Melbourne Cup crown. Hitotsi claimed the Penfolds Victoria Derby Day, Willowy ran out the Group 1 race at the Kennedy Oaks Day and Zaaki rounded out the carnival with victory at the Paramount+ Stakes Day.

Hitotsu - Penfolds Victoria Derby Day - Saturday October 30th

Japanese stallion Hitotsu won the 2021 Group 1 Penfolds Victoria Derby. Jockey John Allen rode the Maurice colt to a stunning victory from the back of the pack, passing Allegron and Teewaters in the home stretch. The win was stunning as the horse had just moved from 1600m up to 2500m in his sixth start. The three-year-old handled the change with ease. Hitotsu became the first horse since Monte Carlo 1956 to move from the Caulfield Cup to the Derby and win, in one of the biggest results of the Carnival.

Verry Elleegant - Lexus Melbourne Cup Day - Tuesday November 2nd

Verry Elleegant ran out a stunning victory at the 2021 Lexus Melbourne Cup. The six-year-old mare and jockey James McDonald produced an astonishing performance, breaking away from favourite Incentivise on the straight to take out the cup by four lengths. The win gave McDonald and trainer Chris Waller their very first Melbourne Cup crown.

The victory also broke a 160-year curse. Jumping from barrier 18, which until race day was the only barrier to have never produced a winner, Verry Elleegant made history. The champion horse also became the first mare to win the Melbourne Cup since Makybe Diva 16 years ago. Incentivise, who was the shortest-priced favourite ($2.80) since Phar Lap’s win in 1930, came in second as a shock to many punters. Coming in third was Spanish Mission.

Verry Elleegant (NZ) ridden by James McDonald on the way to the barriers prior to the running of the Lexus Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse on November 02, 2021 in Flemington, Australia. (Brett Holburt/Racing Photos via Getty Images)

Willowy - Kennedy Oaks Day - Thursday November 4th

Damien Oliver secured his 126th Group 1 victory with his triumph in the Kennedy Oaks aboard Willowy. The masterful jockey showed that age is just a number, in what was his seventh Oaks victory. Willowy is trained by James Cummings, grandson of Bart Cummings. With his latest win, Oliver is now level on 126 Group wins with George Moore.

“I didn’t know if I was going to get there until the last bit,” Oliver admitted. “The second horse looked like it had it. But I really asked her for a big effort late and she responded well.”

Zaaki - Paramount+ Stakes Day - Saturday November 6th

The final race day of the 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival was the Paramount+ Mackinnon Stakes (2000m). James McDonald won his fourth Group 1 race and 10th race of the 2021 Melbourne Cup Carnival. Zaaki was a hot favourite ahead of Stakes Day he didn’t disappoint. The Annabel Neasham trained horse was dominant and held off a late challenge from Cascadian, the Brett Prebble ridden and James Cummings horse.

It was another stellar year at the Melbourne Cup Carnival as punters were reminded of the joy this time of year brings to everyone involved. For more news and video content, 10Play has you covered. The Carnival will be returning to Network 10 in 2022, so stay tuned!