The Melbourne Cup has grown to become one of Australia’s most watched events.
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 with prize money of $125,000 or more paid all the way down to 10th placing in the race.
The race was first run in 1861 and was 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 152 horses which have gone into the race as favourite, 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).
This year’s Melbourne Cup shapes to be one of the hardest to predict of the past decade with the Caulfield Cup-winning Japanese horse Admire Rakti the clear favourite. Last year we saw the Gai Waterhouse-trained import Fiorente guided to victory over Red Cadeaux, second-placed multiple times and who lines up again this year. This year’s Cox Plate second-placed horse and the winner of last year's Caulfield Cup, Fawkner, is the most fancied of the Australian horses.
How to pick your horse
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 yours?
I am a diehard form man myself. 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. Things haven’t gone my way in the past two years, but that is about to change! Not only do I like to look at the form of each horse, but statistics from previous cups provide keys to the race which can’t be ignored. Eight of the last 13 winners have won their previous race before running in the Cup while three of the last seven cups have been won by internationally trained horses (second place was claimed in each of the last seven years by an international horse as well).
A high weight can ruin a horse's chance of winning the Cup. In the past seven runnings of the race, we have seen the top two weighted horses combine for zero placings. The list of horses which couldn’t win with a top weight includes past winners Dunaden, Americain and Shocking. In fact, the last seven cups were won by horses carrying 55kg, 53.5kg, 54.5kg, 54.5kg, 51kg, 53kg and 54.5kg. Five of the top six in the market this year will carry 55kg or more in the Cup with second favourite Lucia Valentina sneaking in with just 53kg.
An old favourite of mine, which used to get a run before I understood horse racing. I would choose the most macho named horse, so it would come as no surprise that Might and Power is my favourite horse of all time. Cavalryman is the stand-out this year and brings formlines which should hold up in this class of race. Who Shot The Barman is the other horse I like in the race on names.
Having won 12 Cups in his lifetime, Bart Cummings is a favourite of most, but his one runner this year, Precedence, has seen better days and is getting on in years. Last year’s winning trainer, Gai Waterhouse, is without a runner this year due to her horse, The Offer, being scratched from the race last week. Robert Hickmott, the trainer of Lloyd Williams three runners in the race, is the other obvious trainer pick. All of Lloyd’s horses are targeted for this race every year and he has won the equal most number of Melbourne Cups.
Several of today’s jockeys have won at least one Melbourne Cup each and none were more memorable than Damien Oliver's on Media Puzzle 12 years ago. Oliver, who won it last year on Fiorente, will be forced to ride an outside chance after his ride for Gai Waterhouse was scratched. James McDonald is the in-form jockey of the moment and put in one of the best rides of the year on Rising Romance in the Caulfield Cup. He is the one to watch for the carnival.
I'm a big fan of the New Zealand horse Lucia Valentina who finds herself near the bottom of the weights coming off a very good run 3rd in the Caulfield Cup and she is my top pick. I'm a sucker for a local and Fawkner was very unlucky to run second in the Cox Plate and follows a similar formline to last year's winner Fiorente. Two horses at odds appeal to me in Opinion who is a very unpredictable horse and you never know if it has turned up to race, and Seismos, who needs to be given the lead from the top of the straight to have any chance.
Who is your pick for the Melbourne Cup? Whatever your pick, enjoy the day and the 200 seconds that stop the nation every year.
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