The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s premier thoroughbred racing event with a total prize pool of $7,750,000. The lucky owners of the winning horse receive $4.4 million, while prize money of $160,000 or more is paid all the way down to the 10th placing in the race.
The race was first run in 1861, over the distance of two miles. In 1972, in anticipation of the introduction of the metric system, the distance of the race was changed from 3218 to 3200 metres.
Of the 158 horses that have gone into the race as favourites, 35 (22 per cent) have gone on to win the Cup, with Phar Lap in 1930 being the shortest priced winner at the odds of 8/11 ($1.73). The very next year, Phar Lap ran eighth in the race, carrying the greatest weight of all time – 10 stone 10 pounds (68kg).
Australian-bred Vow and Declare last year won the slowest run Melbourne Cup since the 2010 heavy track race won by Americain.
Horses born overseas have performed particularly well in this race in recent years with Cross Counter, Rekindling and Almandin all winning the three previous cups.
No horse since Toryboy in 1865 has won as an eight-year-old or older, with just the Diva in 2005 and Almandin in 2016 winning as seven-year-olds.
Surprise Baby and Russian Camelot are the two local hopes this year, both fancied equally to take out the race at around $12 in betting.
How to pick a winner
Even if you’re not one for betting, the Melbourne Cup usually warrants a couple of dollars on a horse; but how do you choose which one to back?
I pay particular attention to form. I will study each and every horse and go over hours of video just so I can claim bragging rights over my friends and family. Not only do I like to look at the form of each horse, but statistics from previous Cups shouldn’t be ignored. Nine of the last 19 winners won their previous race before running in the Cup, while internationally trained horses have won four of the last seven Cups.
‘Weight’ refers to the official riding weight of the jockey. Carrying a higher weight can ruin a horse’s chance of winning the Melbourne Cup. The last four Melbourne Cups were won by horses carrying 52kg, 51kg, 51.5kg, 52kg and 53kg.
An old favourite of mine, well before I really understood horse racing. I would always choose the most macho-named horse, so it’s no surprise that Might and Power is my all-time favourite. Familiar names tend to resonate with punters, so Vow and Declare, that won last year, will be fancied by punters on the day, as will the Caulfield Cup winner Verry Elleegant.
YourLifeChoices’ team tips
Drew: Russian Camelot
Janelle: Verry Elleegant
Ben: Anthony Van Dyck
Rhonda: Anthony Van Dyck
Anne: Anthony Van Dyck
Who is your pick for the Melbourne Cup? Whatever your pick may be, we hope you enjoy the day and those 200 seconds that stop the nation every year.
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