Archer's Melbourne Cup, by Vashti Farrer

Tom helps me brush Archer down and he’s standing there like some statue we’re polishing. He knows he’s a beauty. You can tell by the way he holds his head – up high, looking down on the world.

It is 1861 and Robby Jenkins has just found work as a stable hand at Terara. His family needs the money, and Robby has always loved horses, so he’s pleased to have found the job. He is hoping that eventually he’ll be able to become a jockey.

At Terara Robby makes friends, and one special one is the horse, Archer. When a brand new horse race, the Melbourne Cup is announced, Robby’s boss decides to enter Archer. Robby is sure he can win – and he wants to travel with the horse to see it happen.

Archer’s Melbourne Cup is the story of the first Melbourne Cup, told from the perspective of the strapper of the winning horse. The tale focuses on life at the stables, as well as family life and the economic climate of the times. The use of the diary format personalises the story.

Part of Scholastic’s My Australian Story series, Archer’s Melbourne Cup provides an informative yet entertaining look at the birth of the race which continues to stop the nation.

Archer’s Melbourne Cup, by Vashti Farrer
Scholastic, 2007

Melbourne Cup 1930, by Geoff Armstrong & Peter Thompson

The Studebaker cut the corner as it bounced too quickly into Etna Street, and hardly slowed as it drew level with Woodcock. To his horror, the strapper saw that the man in the back now had in his hands not a newspaper but a double-barrelled shotgun, aimed straight at him.

While history shows that Phar Lap won the prestigious Melbourne Cup in 1930, most Australians are unaware of the dramas that dominated the days leading up the cup. First Phar Lap was shot at as his strapper lead him home from a workout. To keep him safe, he was spirited away to Geelong, where he was kept hidden and under police guard. After violent storms and sleepless nights for his watchers, Phar Lap was finally taken back to Melbourne on cup day – only to have the truck carrying him break down several times on the way. None of these dramas, however, were able to stop Phar Lap from decimating the Cup field.

Melbourne Cup 1930 is a detailed analysis of all aspects of the 1930 Cup, with a focus, of course, on the dramas which surrounded Phar Lap. Authors Geoff Armstrong and Peter Thompson unravel the rumours, innuendos and facts about what really happened in those drama-filled days leading up to the Cup.

Not just for horse racing enthusiasts, this is a detailed look at a special part of Australia’s history. No other horse has captured Australia’s heart so completely, and this offering gives a glimpse into the reasons for that passion.

Melbourne Cup 1930: How Phar Lap Won Australia’s Greatest Race, by Geoff Armstrong & Peter Thompson
Allen & Unwin, 2005