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Cartoonist Mark Knight explains why he added a special Aussie touch to his Melbourne Cup art

Mark Knight, November 7, 2019 6:30PM Herald Sun

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Part of Mark Knight’s cartoon on the 2019 Melbourne Cup winner Vow and Declare. media_cameraPart of Mark Knight’s cartoon on the 2019 Melbourne Cup winner Vow and Declare.


Reading level: green

“The race that stops a nation” is how the Melbourne Cup is most often described.

For 158 years, it has been a day where people who never watch horse racing or place a bet, stop whatever they are doing and find themselves in front of a television cheering for a bunch of thoroughbred* horses with jockeys aboard on a 3200m gallop around the famous Flemington racecourse.

Stranger still, Australians can remember the names of the trainers such as Bart Cummings who won 12 Cups and the horses who became legends of the race — Archer, Phar Lap, Makybe Diva and Prince of Penzance to name a few.

In 1993, an Irish horse named Vintage Crop won the Cup.
It was the first time a horse outside of Australasia had won and it started the internationalisation* of our greatest horse race.

The Advertiser Library media_cameraVintage Crop, ridden by jockey Mick Kinane, winning the 1993 Melbourne Cup. Picture: Wayne Ludbey

Horses from Europe, Asia and the US owned by racing dynasties*, sheiks*, royalty and billionaire business people came here to try their luck. Success for the international raiders*, as they were called, followed and soon the Melbourne Cup was dominated by foreign horses.

It seemed that the days of an Australian horse winning would be few and far between* and that local runners could not compete with the internationals.

This year looked like the foreigners would dominate again with just three horses bred in Australia in the Cup.

To add to this, ABC TV had aired shocking footage of former racehorses from NSW being cruelly handled and killed in a Queensland knackery*. It shocked the general public and the racing industry. Protesters and animal rights* groups called for the Cup to be banned.

The Melbourne Cup needed a good news story!

Each year when the Cup is run, I usually draw a cartoon about the result or something about the day.

Watching the race I wondered what I would draw about when it was all done and dusted. Disappointingly, I thought, it would probably be another horse owned by a billionaire sheik getting up to win.

media_cameraVow And Declare ridden by Craig Williams wins the 2019 Melbourne Cup. Picture: Getty Images

I need not have worried, for it was one of the more exciting races on record. Despite the field being dominated by overseas gallopers, the chestnut gelding* Vow and Declare, a horse bred in Australia, ridden by Aussie jockey Craig Williams, trained by local trainer Danny O’Brien and owned by a schoolteacher and the Mayor of Gympie in Queensland went to the front early and held on to win.

You can’t get any more Australian than that! It was big news. Australia had held on to the Cup.

Mark Knight’s Melbourne Cup cartoon. Right-click and open in new tab to see full size.

media_cameraMark Knight cartoon on the 2019 Melbourne Cup

I sat down at my desk wondering how I would cartoon this “against the odds”* win that symbolised* a lot of what it is to be an Aussie. I was watching the presentation of the Cup when an idea came to me about a new Australian tradition for celebrating a sporting victory.

It was started by Daniel Ricciardo the Australian Grand Prix driver, who celebrated his car race victories with a “shoey” — drinking champagne from his sweaty race shoe.


But it was popular with fans and became linked with an Aussie winning on the world stage.

“Well”, I thought, “if Daniel Ricciardo can do it then why not an Aussie horse winning the Melbourne Cup?”

The problem was you can’t drink out of a horse shoe. So I pictured Vow and Declare with his jockey Craig Williams, who has lent him his riding boot to toast the victory in the most Australian of ways. With a shoey!

Melbourne Cup 2019: Vow and Declare wins by a nose


  • thoroughbred: a horse of pure breed
  • internationalisation: making something international
  • dynasties: succession of family members who are leaders in business, politics or another field
  • sheiks: an Arab leader
  • raiders: a person who intends to steal something
  • few and far between: not happening often
  • knackery: a place where horses are killed
  • animal rights: the rights of animals to live free from human abuse
  • gelding: male horse with testicles removed
  • against the odds: unlikely
  • symbolised: be a symbol of


Vow and Declare wins the Melbourne Cup

Knight: Dreaming of an Uluru without climbers

How Archer won the first Melbourne Cup


  1. How many Melbourne Cups did trainer Bart Cummings win?
  2. What was the name of the horse that won the 2019 Cup?
  3. What nickname is given for foreign horses trying to win the Cup?
  4. Who was the winning jockey in 2019?
  5. Which Aussie sports star created the “shoey”?


1. Caption it!
Read Mark’s explanation about his Melbourne Cup cartoon and write two, three or four short sentences, just to make sure you understand what the cartoon is saying.

Using your sentences to help you, write a new caption for the cartoon or a new thought bubbles from either the horse or jockey to make Mark’s meaning clearer for children or people who didn’t watch the Melbourne Cup this week.

Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
Look through the most recent stories on Kids News and choose one to draw a cartoon about. Use Mark’s three-step process to get started:

  1. What is my subject?
  2. What do I want to say about this issue?
  3. How do I say it? Do I use visual metaphors (an image that the viewer is meant to understand as a symbol for something else), multiple panels or symbolism (when one idea, feeling or emotion is represented by something else such as a: picture, character, colour or object)?

Time: allow at least 40 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum links: English, Humanities, Visual Arts, Critical and Creative Thinking

HAVE YOUR SAY: Would you ever do a “shoey” to celebrate a sporting win?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will show until approved by editors.

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