Here are five factors that could help you choose the right horse in the race that stops the nation.
With a huge field of 24 horses and jockeys from all over the world plus a gruelling 3200m of distance, the Melbourne Cup is a notoriously tough race for punters. Some say you might as well just put your money on your sweeps pick. But some factors definitely influence the result. Don’t discount the international horses as they have had great success in recent years!
The Caulfield Cup, run three weeks before the Melbourne Cup, is the best indication of how a horse will perform in the big one. Statistically, horses that cope well with Caulfield are worth a punt at Flemington. Also check out how they fare in the Turnbull, the Mackinnon, the Geelong Cup, and the Cox Plate.
Bet on the boys
With the exception of the almighty three-times winner Makybe Diva, the Melbourne Cup is a male-dominated race. Stallions have the best strike rate, followed by geldings.
How much weight is your horse carrying? Remember that load has to be lugged over the long 3200m. The average winning weight over the last nine years is 54.2kg. If you hear commentators mention that a horse is carrying more weight than usual, be cautious.
Who’s on board?
Check out the jockey’s form, too. If they’ve been riding winners of late, that’s a good sign. And if horse and rider are a previously strong team, that helps too. 2016 winning jockey Michelle Payne had ridden winning mount Prince of Penzance in all but one of his 23 starts. She was confident in him, despite his long 101-1 odds. And the result proved she knew him best.
The barrier factor
It’s a long race and a lot can happen after the start, so don’t sweat the barrier draw too much. However, bear in mind barrier five has historically had the most wins, with 10, 11 and 14 close behind. Barrier 18 has never had a win.