The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s premier thoroughbred racing event with a total prize pool of $7.3 million. The lucky owners of the winning horse receive $4 million while prize money of $150,000 or more is paid all the way down to the 12th 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 156 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).
Horses born overseas have performed particularly well in this race. British-bred racehorse Rekindling won the race last year, while German-born Almandin won the 2017 Melbourne Cup. The top nine horses in the betting this year were not born in this country, with several flying in solely to participate in this event.
The ‘local’ hope in the 2018 race is the Chris Waller trained Youngster, a horse that won the Queensland Oaks in the Autumn and ran a very respectable second to Winx at Flemington last month in the Turnbull Stakes.
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 17 winners won their previous race before running in the Cup, while internationally trained horses have won three of the last five 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 eight Melbourne Cups were won by horses carrying 51.5kg, 52kg, 53kg, 56.5kg, 55kg, 53.5kg, 54.5kg, 54.5kg, 51kg, 53kg and 54.5kg.
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 Who Shot Thebarman and Marmelo who have all previously run in the race will be fancied by punters on the day, as will the Caulfield Cup winner Best Solution.
While in previous Cup races you could look to a Bart Cummings, that isn’t the case anymore, with Mr Cummings having passed away four years ago. His son James Cummings, training for the mighty Godolphin stable, does have a well fancied runner in Avilius, going after his, and Godolphin’s, first Melbourne Cup. The O’Brien name has once again come to the table with the early favourite this year, Yucatan, trained by Aidan O’Brien, the father of Joseph O’Brien who trained Rekindling to victory last year.
Several of today’s jockeys have won at least one Melbourne Cup each, and none were more memorable than Damien Oliver’s ride on Media Puzzle 15 years ago. There aren’t many jockeys in Australia currently performing better than Hugh Bowman, Damien Oliver and Craig Williams, but with such a strong international field, expect the world’s best to be riding. Corey Brown gave Rekindling the perfect ride last year to claim the Cup and he is booked on the third favourite Magic Circle.
YourLifeChoices’ team tips
Drew: Cross Counter
Janelle: The Cliffsofmoher
Ben: Vengeur Masque
Kaye: Who Shot Thebarman
Olga: Magic Circle
David: The Cliffsofmoher
Johan: Chestnut Coat
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.