About the Melbourne Cup
As mentioned, the Melbourne Cup takes place on the first Tuesday in November (this year that is Tuesday 2 November 2021). It is run at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, and it attracts a huge audience. It is the highlight of the Australian horseracing calendar and having been run since 1861, it is the most prestigious race in the country.
One of the key features of the race is its length. It is run over a distance of roughly 3,200 metres, or two miles. There are very few races of this length that are considered important events. It poses a significant challenge to horses, as they have to be able to last the distance. Furthermore, the Melbourne Cup is conducted under handicap conditions. There is a governing body that decides which of the horses are the top competitors in the race and then assigns them a greater weight to carry than the other horses. This is achieved by adding ballast to the jockey or the riding equipment. This is designed to even out the playing field and it makes the race particularly attractive to bettors, as they do not have to worry about a favourite dominating the betting.
The Melbourne Cup is run on a grass surface and it is open to three year olds and up. Horses can qualify for the race by winning one of a number of qualifying races or by being selected by officials. The number of competing horses is limited to 24, but sometimes there are less than that.
As mentioned, it is a handicapping event. However, in recent years the rules have changed slightly. While the older horses are still assigned handicaps, the severity of the weight has been lessened. This was done in order to attract more foreign horse owners to the race, which in turn would make it even more prestigious.
Today the race is known as a “quality handicap”. Older horses are always given more weight than their younger rivals are. When it comes to horses of the same age, the heavier weights are given to the horses whose past performances suggest that they are more likely to win the race than others in the same age group are.
Melbourne Cup Betting Analysis
In many ways, regardless of what horse race you are betting on, you should be conducting your analysis in the same way. However, as a handicapped event, the Melbourne Cup presents its own challenges. When you look at previous editions of the race, you will notice that a relatively low percentage of the favourites win the race when compared to other major stakes races and this is largely down to the handicap. In fact, over the past 11 years, only one favourite (Fiorente) has won the race, and in 2015, a 100-1 outside (Prince of Penzance) shocked everyone by winning.
While a horse may be the best in the field, the added weight really does even things out, which makes the race hugely exciting. In regards to your betting strategy, it means that you need to pay very close attention to the weight assigned to each horse. You need to delve into the horses’ past performances looking for similar weights and see how they performed. If a horse carried significantly less weight in the past, it may be a sign that they will struggle over the two-mile course while carrying extra weight.
There are of course other factors that you need to consider. For instance, there are potentially 24 horses competing in the race, which makes the barrier draw very important. As the horses go around the turns, those towards the outside will have to run further than those on the inside. When you hear commentators talking about a horse being “three wide” or “four wide”, it means that the horse is caught in the third lane or fourth lane, which is usually not a great position in the early and middle stages of the race, especially if they are in the front of the lane and taking in all the wind. Barrier 11 has been the most successful Melbourne Cup gate over the past 30 years and nine of the last eleven winners have come from barriers 1 to 12.
As mentioned, the organisers of the Melbourne Cup are keen to attract more horses from abroad, and this has certainly been working. However, when planning your bets, you have to take the distance a horse has travelled into account. Australia is a long way from both Europe and the US, where many top racehorses are based, and they will have to settle into the Australian climate before the race. That is not to say that international horses do not perform well at the Melbourne Cup; between 2014 and 2020, five of the seven Melbourne Cup winners were from overseas, so they should not be ignored.
Beyond these factors, you will of course want to consider horses’ form, class and speed. It is always important to study a horse’s past performances, and if you notice a gradual improvement, then it may be a sign that the trainer has been preparing them specifically for the Melbourne Cup. In fact, it is just as important to look at the trainers behind the horses, as some of them will specialise in the event and you will notice that they regularly enjoy success with their horses. Similarly, don’t forget to look at the jockeys and how they have performed historically.
There is a huge amount of information available about the runners in the Melbourne Cup, their trainers, and their jockeys. Take the time to do detailed research as it is absolutely key to placing successful bets.
Melbourne Cup Bet Types
The large number of bets that you can place on the Melbourne Cup may surprise you. The most basic is a straight bet on which horse you think will win, and it is always a good place to start.
If you find yourself in a situation where you think a horse will do well but you are not convinced that they will win, then you could make a Place Bet or an Each-Way Bet. A place bet is a bet on a horse to finish in the top three while an each-way bet is actually two bets, you place an equal amount on a horse to win and the horse to place.
You can take this further with a Quinella Bet. This is a bet on which horses you think will finish first and second, and they can finish in either order. A similar bet is an Exacta Bet, which is also on horses to finish first and second, but you need to select the order. Another option is a Trifecta Bet, which is a bet on which horses will finish first, second, and third, in the correct order.
There is often a special bet available on the Melbourne Cup known as the Quadrella Bet. It requires you to pick the winner of four nominated races on the day, including the Melbourne Cup itself. It is held on the last four races of the meeting and as it is a hard bet to win, the potential returns are huge.
Take the time to explore all of the different betting markets available for the Melbourne Cup, as they offer a great deal of flexibility, which is important to a successful strategy.
Melbourne Cup Records
There have been a number of impressive records set at the Melbourne Cup. For example, Rain Lover set the fastest time record in 1968 with a time of 3:19.1. However, in 1972, the length of the race was reduced by just over 18.6 metres. Instead of taking the record away, they adjusted Rain Lover’s time to 3:19.9. However, this was then beaten in 1990 by Kingston Rule, who won in 3:16.3.
We discussed the importance of the trainer above and no one comes close to Bart Cummings in regards to the Melbourne Cup. He had horses running in the race from 1965 to 2008 during which time he amassed an incredible 12 wins. His closest competitor to date has managed five.
At present, two jockeys hold the joint record for the most wins at the race. Bobby Lewis and Harry White have both won the Melbourne Cup four times, while Glen Boss is just behind, having won three times in a row from 2003 to 2005, all while riding Makybe Diva, the most successful horse in the race’s history.