The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s premier thoroughbred racing event with a total prize pool of $6 million. The lucky owners of the winning horse receive $3.6 million while prize money of $125,000 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 155 horses that have gone into the race as favourites, 35 (23 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. German-born racehorse Almandin won the 2017 Melbourne Cup; while Protectionist, also German-born, won in 2014. The top 10 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 2017 race is the Caulfield Cup winner from the David Hayes stable Boom Time. A surprise winner at his last start, Boom Time was born in Western Australia and found his way over to the Peter Moody Stable in 2015 before moving to the David Hayes camp a year ago.
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 16 winners won their previous race before running in the Cup, while internationally trained horses won four of the last 10 Cups.
‘Weight’ refers to the official riding weight of the jockey. Carrying a higher weight can ruin a horse’s chance of winning the Cup. The last eight Cups were won by horses carrying 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 Max Dynamite, Almandin and Bondi Beach who have all previously run in the race, will be fancied by punters on the day. Game of Thrones fans will flock to Jon Snow, while Wall of Fire will also be a favourite among punters who pick by name.
While in previous Cup races you could look to a Bart Cummings or Peter Moody, that isn’t the case any more, with Mr Cummings having passed away three years ago, and Mr Moody having given up the sport last year. Today, the Hickmott/O’Brien stables make up a large portion of the betting market and will be hard to hold out, targeting this race with some of their best horses, purchased from all over the world.
Several of today’s jockeys have won at least one Melbourne Cup each, and none were more memorable than Damien Oliver’s run 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. Last year, Joao Moreira gave his mount, Heartbreak City, one of the best losing rides you will ever see in the Cup, and has been dominating the Hong Kong circuit all year.
Drew: Ventura Storm
Ryan: Big Duke
David: Big Duke
Leon: Bondi Beach
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.