Contested every year on the first Tuesday of November, the Melbourne Cup is the world's richest two-mile handicap race, as well as one of the most prestigious races on the world racing calendar. In Australia, it is commonly referred to as 'the race that stops a nation', and the pinnacle of punting in the land down under.
While the Cup is arguably Australia's best annual sporting event, it also presents a fantastic opportunity for punters to make great profits. With a a huge field of 24 horses, and every man and his dog having a bet on the race, the value on offer is tantalising. This is especially true for punters who bet in the quinella, trifecta and first four markets, with the tote pools swelling to inordinate levels.
Even though the Cup is such an Australian icon, it has been the international raiders, particularly from Europe, who have dominated the race in recent years. The 3,200-metre or 'mile and a half' distance suits these superior European stayers, who are similarly favoured by the wide, expansive track of Flemington.
The international domination of the race has been so complete in the past decade that the last time an Australian-bred horse won the race was in 2009, when Shocking got the job done.
In the most recent edition, British horse Rekindling flew home in a thrilling finish, earning yet another Cup win for influential owner Lloyd Williams.
Some punters will tell you that the barrier draw does not play a big part in the Melbourne Cup however statistics suggest otherwise. Whatever race your are assessing most of the factors that punter's consider need to be brought together and not viewed in isolation. For example speed out of the gate and the horse's preferred settling position in the field are important factors to assess when considering the impact that a barrier might have on a runner's chances of winning the Cup. Professional racing form analysts like Deane Lester produce speed maps to assist punters with this analysis.
Although many factors need to be considered when assessing the Cup field, results from past Cups show some interesting trends for punters to consider.
The heaviest weight ever carried by a Melbourne Cup winner was way back in 1890 when Carbine won the race carrying 66 kilograms beating the other 38 starters in the race without the use of barriers. Over the last twenty years the heaviest weight carried was back in 2005 when the freak mare Makybe Diva won her third straight cup carrying 58 kilograms. That win also set a record for the heaviest weight carried by a mare winning the race. She broke her own record from the year prior to that when she won the 2004 Melbourne Cup carrying 55.5 kilograms. Before 2004, Empire Rose held that record with her win in 1988 carrying 53.5 kilograms.
For some punters it's their lucky number that drives their decision on Cup day. Importantly, saddle cloths represent the order of weight that each horse will carry in a race which is particularly important in a handicap race like the Cup. Statistics taken from the Cup winners over history show a clear winning trend towards the lower numbers in the race i.e. the heavier weighted horses. In fact 65% of the winners have come from saddle cloths 1 to 12.
The correlation between lower saddle cloth numbers and Cup winners is clearly highlighted when lining up the four groups of saddle cloth numbers.
For a lot of punters, the Cup is one of the few races that they will bet in throughout the year. Interestingly, without doubt it is one of the hardest races to assess on the racing calendar due to the follow factors:
For these reasons it is worthwhile getting good advice. All of Australia's media tipsters and punters with independently verified profits are posted in the horse racing tip market. It's worth looking at before you bet.