Of the hundreds of horses initially vying for a place, only 18 actually line up at the top of the home straight for one of Australia’s iconic horse races. It’s the middle of October, the final day of three in the Melbourne Racing Club’s famous Spring Carnival – and it’s time for the running of the Caulfield Cup. This is how it has been for most of the last one and a half centuries, apart from a few years during World War Two when it was run at Flemington.
What is it about the Caulfield Cup that makes it so special? Well, it’s a quality field, which isn’t surprising when you appreciate this is the richest race of this type you’ll find anywhere on Planet Earth. The prize pot is full to bursting at an amazing three million dollars for a race that is run as a Group 1 Thoroughbred race and is competed for under the auspices of that famous Melbourne Racing Club.
Although they are aiming to transform it into a weight for age (WFA) conditions race, it is still currently run under handicap conditions. This means each of the participating horses will be given an exact weight to carry, and it’s decided by taking account of many factors, including any recent wins or a horse’s accumulation of prize money.
The 18-starter field (with another four emergencies available) for the Caulfield Cup features animals who are three years or older. The length of the race is 2400m - some older patrons might still tell you that it’s a ‘proper mile and a half’.
A key reason for its high placing in the Australian racing calendar is that it provides one possible qualification method to run in the legendary Melbourne Cup. The winner gains direct entry into the race that stops Australia. It is held just 16 days later, and overseas owners, say from Europe, will often look to target both events when bringing a horse over to Australia.
If you were compiling a Caulfield Cup form guide or setting the odds, offering tips, and the like, you would base your careful judgements on a wealth of different factors and information. This would definitely include any performances in the lead-up races a horse was part of. You’d want to know the track’s condition on race day. This might range from a Good 3 – a dry track – to one that is much wetter with heavier going. It’s that famous Melbourne climate to blame!
You’d also consider the key barrier draw and that would affect how the horse’s running style might be hampered or changed by the draw it receives. This is a key consideration on what is recognised as a tight turning track.
Of course, some punters carefully study the Caulfield Cup field, and the odds available, and then place thought-out wagers. It’s equally likely that, for this one day, people might just have a go on a horse they like for some personal reason. Whichever is your preference, it’s a day when a wealth of bets are available, both well in advance and right up to race time. Some folk do also like to try a double on the Caulfield/Melbourne Cups.
Caulfield Cup Field and Odds
Here are some more key facts about the Caulfield Cup, one of our country’s outstanding race days. That day is the final one of the three which comprise the superb Spring Carnival, delivered so brilliantly by the Melbourne Racing Club. The race is strictly limited to 18 of the finest horses, all aged three years and upwards. A further four entries are ‘the emergencies’ and participants in this race are decided using a ballot system. It’s worth knowing that an automatic entry is provided for the victors in the Listed Mornington Cup and the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes. For the rest, key factors for ballot eligibility will likely include placings in the lead-up races, plus any race wins gained and prize money earned by each horse. This seeks to deliver a more level field, giving some of the lesser performed horses the chance to gain entry in this most iconic of races.
Is there a barrier to Caulfield Cup success?
Well, there are tales abounding of the outcome of the race barrier draw even making or breaking racing careers. That might be slightly fanciful; indeed there is no standout winning barrier draw. If you were taking part, you might not want to draw 1 on the inside, as no horse has won from there in the last quarter century and more. Close to the rails can also be a poor draw if the weather is wet, as it’s reckoned that the inside of the track bears the brunt of this. Apart from that, how the horse runs, whether it likes to lead, for example, might have an effect on the draw any jockey, trainer or owner would want.
Understanding the Caulfield Cup odds
Although the final Caulfield Cup race odds are not released until just a few days before the event, some lucrative futures odds offers are available months before the mid-October race date itself. Odds will always be updated when every new round of releases of nominations or acceptances is made. Odds are calculated by considering both the chance an individual horse has of gaining a place in the Caulfield Cup field, and also how it is going to then perform during the actual race.
Professional tipsters and keen amateur punters are going to pay close attention to any performances in a range of races, leading up to this one, including the Yalumba Stakes, Cranbourne Cup, plus The Metropolitan, the Craven Plate, and the Spring Champion stakes.
Many other Australians will have one of their infrequent gambles and this can be chosen for a variety of personal reasons. There are as many of these as there are betting options for the race from all Australia’s top online bookmakers – so, do enjoy making your Caulfield Cup choices!