The Melbourne Cup is the biggest horse racing event—and arguably the biggest sporting event of any sort—in Australia. Known as 'the race that stops a nation', the Melbourne Cup is held on the first Tuesday of November at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria under the auspices of the Victoria Racing Club. The race has been held annually since 1861.


The race was originally run at a distance of just over two miles (3,218 meters) but was reduced to an even 3,200 meters (2 miles) when Australia adopted the metric system in 1972. The race is run on a turf course making it one of the richest and most prestigious turf races in the world. The purse on the race is roughly $6 million (US) with over half that amount going to the winner. Melbourne Cup day is a de facto holiday in most of Australia and a legal holiday in Melbourne and other parts of Victoria. The event draws a live crowd of over 100,000 and a one day betting handle of over $140 million (US). Betting on the Melbourne Cup is something that even casual fans and the general public enjoy much in the same way that Americans bet on the Super Bowl and Kentucky Derby.

The overall format of the Melbourne Cup may be unfamiliar to North American racing fans and justifies some explanation. The two mile distance is very long by North American standards and the size of the field is very large as well. The race is now limited to 24 entries but throughout the history of the event as many as 36 horses have entered the race. An important thing to remember about Melbourne Cup betting is that the race is run under a handicap format—horses are assessed an additional weight penalty based on age with older horses carrying more of a weight penalty than younger horses. Additional weight handicaps are assessed based on previous performance though it has been modified somewhat in recent years to not unfairly penalize especially talented horses.


Melbourne Cup Contender Attacked By Stablemate&h=223&w=348&zc=1

Added on October 7, 2014 , in Melbourne Cup Betting

Melbourne Cup Contender Attacked By Stablemate

To the uninitiated, race horses seem like majestic and regal beasts. Some of them are but anyone that has spent any time around ...

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29.08.2014 , by Jim

Melbourne Cup Winning Trainer Cox Laid To Rest

Legendary Australian horse trainer Ollie Cox was given a fitting farewell by nearly 400 mourners on Thursday at his ‘professional ...

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14.07.2014 , by Jim

Melbourne Cup Winner Dunaden Retired

Dunaden was once described by owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani as a ‘dream horse’. He won the 2011 Melbourne Cup and at ...

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Due to the large field and particularly the weight handicap format determining which horses are worthy of your Melbourne Cup bets can be a tricky proposition. As you'd surmise from the format its a race which literally any horse can win and favorites don't historically perform well. The post time favorite has won only 23% of all Melbourne Cup races and three horses have won the race at odds in excess of 100/1.


The Melbourne Cup is open to all horses age 3 and up but the 3 year old horses seldom fare well. This concept may not be familiar to casual horse racing fans in North America since the major races including the Kentucky Derby are limited to 3 year olds. For a competitive race horse, the 3 year old campaign is essentially its 'rookie year'. Horses reach their competitive peak at ages 4 and 5 and as a result most Melbourne Cups have been won by 4 and 5 year olds. 43 races have been won by 4 year old horses and 45 by 5 year old horses. Note that the number of 6 year old winners is on the rise due to improvements in horse care and management—28 6 year olds have now won the race. The last three year old to win the Melbourne Cup was in 1941 and the last 8 year old in 1938. The fact that 116 of the races have been won by horses aged 4, 5 or 6 is a good place to start your handicapping work. It's also worth noting that 'past performance is not indicative of future success' in the Melbourne Cup—only one horse in history has taken the race in back to back years.


Much is made of the prep races leading up to the Kentucky Derby and the same concept applies to the Melbourne Cup. The major prep races you want to pay attention to for this race are the Caufield Cup, the Geelong Cup and the Moone Valley Cup. The Caufield Cup, in particular, has been very important historically with the winner of that race going on to win 14 of the last 31 Melbourne Cups.