The Melbourne Cup. It’s not just the race that stops a nation. It’s the sporting event of the year in Australia.
Just about everyone gets involved in the cup, even if it just takes place in the form of a sweep in the office or at home with a gathering of friends or family.
We all love backing the winner, and even finding a place-getter can be a thrill.
Look at Makybe Diva’s three Melbourne Cups for instance. In 2003 the two place-getters were both 40-1 shots, in 2004 Zazzman ran third at 100-1, in 2005 we saw On A Jeune run second at 70-1.
A $10 place bet on any of those horses would have collected much more than a win bet on the legendary mare. The lesson: don’t be afraid to have an each-way flutter at big odds!
But if we want to have a really big collect on Australia’s great race without risking too much, we have to look at the exotic bets.
The most common types of exotics are the quinella (first two horses in any order), exacta (first two horses in exact order), trifecta (first three horses) and first four (first four horses in any order).
You can place these bets for whatever percentage of the collect you like. You might have a bet that returns eight per cent – that way, if the dividend is $1000, you will collect $80.
Looking at this year’s race, it looks like a tough one to crack. You can argue there are up to 17 winning chances. There always seems to be a big roughie in the placings somewhere, so the trick is to try and figure out which horses can defy their odds, and which of the more favoured runners might not finish in the top five as expected.
Australia has some home-grown chances this year, with 23. Vow And Declare and 18. Surprise Baby leading the way. They have raced at 2400m or further eight times between them and finished in the top two seven on seven of those occasions. We must put them in.
14. Downdraft won on Saturday and that form usually stands up well in the Cup, at great value. 11. Finche ran fourth in the Melbourne Cup last year, and is going better now. 19. Constantinople profiles beautifully as a northern hemisphere three-year-old.
If you box five horses, a $10 bet will give you 100 per cent of the quinella dividend.
The exacta pays more than than the quinella, because you have to predict the exact order of the first two home. It will pay even more if the outsider of the two horses finishes first.
Looking for a bit of value, let’s take 23. Vow And Declare to win, and put 6. Hunting Horn, 11. Finche, 14. Downdraft, 18. Suprise Baby and 19. Constantinople in for second.
A $5 bet will give us 100 per cent of the dividend.
This is where the bigger returns start to come into play, but we will need something at bigger odds to run a place, or have favourite Mer De Glace miss the placings to really cash in.
Let’s use second favourite 19. Constantinople as a roving banker, which means he must run in the top three for us to collect.
Then let’s add the other five horses mentioned in the exacta section, plus four more to go nice and wide in such an even race.
12. Prince Of Arran loves racing in Australia and finished third last year. 10. Twilight Payment is way over the odds coming off good European form. 5. Southern France beat many several key contenders here two starts back. 3. Master Of Reality is a strong stayer that will get a nice run in the race from barrier one.
19 as the roving banker, with 3, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 14, 18 and 23 as our other selections. Putting a $50 bet on will give us 23.14 per cent of the dividend.
It’s harder to box horses in a first four and get a good percentage without spending too much money, so we need to get creative.
19. Constantinople and 23. Vow And Declare are my best two chances. We’ll take them for first.
We’ll add in 6. Hunting Horn, 11. Finche, 14. Downdraft and 18. Surprise Baby for second.
Starting to go wider now for third, and it makes sense to put in the rest of our trifecta horses into the first four.
Now, anything can run fourth in a Melbourne Cup, so let’s add in another three horses to give us just more than half the field.
We better put in Caulfield Cup winner 2. Mer De Glace now, plus last year’s Melbourne Cup winner 1. Cross Counter.
Another visitor 7. Latrobe has raced well in in Australia before, and has James McDonald – one of the best jockeys in the world – on board.
1st – 11, 19, 23
2nd – 6, 11, 14, 18, 19, 23
3rd – 3, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 23
4th – 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 18, 19, 23
A $40 bet on the above first four will return us five per cent of the dividend, and we will hope for things to go our way.
Now remember, you can study all the form guides you like – but your sister or uncle will pick something based on the name or colours and win more money than all of us.
And that’s the beauty of Australia’s greatest race and why we love it so much. Good luck punters!