There were just seventeen entries for the first one – and Archer emerged triumphant. After eight years, the Victorian Racing Club created the four-day Spring Racing Carnival. In 1876, it was won on Briseis by jockey Peter St Albans, a few days before he celebrated his thirteenth birthday. Newhaven was the first winner to appear on film in 1896. Nineteen years later saw Mrs E.A. Widdis as the first woman owner with her horse Patrobas. In 1925, the race was first broadcast live on radio. Starting stalls were introduced in 1958, exactly a decade after the first winner was decided by photo finish; controversy was caused apparently due to the camera being improperly aligned.
Just a few key moments from the past of our nation’s greatest race – of course, it’s The Melbourne Cup. As a crowd of around one hundred thousand congregate at Flemington on the first Tuesday this November, no doubt a new page will be written into its stellar history. With a prize fund of $6.2 million, a winner’s trophy worth $175K, and the eyes of the world upon it, it’s no longer just the race that stops our nation. Of course, it’s also a day when Melbourne could also claim to be the fashion capital of the world, as style and creativity are on full display, while more committed race goers might be concentrating on the terrific ten-race card.
Two more moments from Melbourne Cup history also have special significance here. It was in 1882 that the first bookmakers were licensed to operate at Flemington; and one year short of half a century later was the first year that the Totaliser operated there. Nowadays, taking that punt on the Melbourne Cup field is so easy, no matter where you are and how much time you spend doing so. For a race where only a quarter or so of pre-race favourites actually cross the line in first place, it’s a ‘wide open to everyone to have a flutter’ field! Of course, our informative form guides and Melbourne Cup odds comparison tool are of great help as you assess any Melbourne Cup tips you might have received from those who claim to be ‘in the know’.
The final runners and riders for the 24-horse field are announced on the Saturday before the race, and you’ll always find full details here. Originally a full two miles, this stayers’ handicap is now marginally metrically shorter at 3200 metres. Some of the starters have qualified through victories in one of the designated qualifying races, such as The Caulfield Cup or Cox Plate, and these races also allow the keen punter to assess the early form of other possible runners. The others are chosen through a qualification process, and balloting takes into account past records of places and wins, cash earned, and the handicap the horse is allocated.
Each of the runners is handicapped by weight, taking into account past performances, with any necessary ballast added to the riding gear; and the older ones usually end up carrying a little bit more than the youngsters.
Whether a casual punter or a committed gambler, the Melbourne Cup results will mean so much to so many around Australia, as most of us pause in a busy day to watch the outcome of one of the world’s iconic horse racing moments!
Melbourne Cup Field and Odds
‘What’s the odds of that happening?’ Here are just a few moments from the history of the Melbourne Cup that might have drawn this response.
In 2012, the first seven horses past the post were all bred in Ireland. Last year, Lloyd Williams became the first five-time winning owner. In 2005, Makybe Diva became the first horse to complete a trio of victories. In 1930, Phar Lap triumphed as the only ever odds-on winner.
The above emphasise that the Melbourne Cup is often not predictable, indeed if you had backed every favourite since the first race in 1861, you would only have been successful around a quarter of the time. What is for sure is that it’s a huge event on the international racing calendar; a handicap run over two miles originally, now marginally shorter at 3200 metres, and with a prize fund of an amazing $6.2 million.
When does your Melbourne Cup start?
For some people probably only on the day of the race itself. For others, perhaps the previous Saturday evening when the final field of 24 is announced, and of course you’ll find them here. Really dedicated turf followers might take you right back to the start of September when the process truly begins.
This is when the horses are first entered, and the provisional number is a staggering figure of between three and four hundred. This is the time where the most avid of punters will analyse these pre-race fields and try and pick, from such a long distance out, possible winners. This is because they can then place bets, often at really good odds on what are known as the ante-post or futures betting markets. Of course, part of the gamble here, to gain these favourable prices, is that the chosen horse may never make it through the ballot or qualifying process.
Moving to the end of this process and the announcement at 7.30pm or so on the Saturday before Tuesday’s race day. We’ll be hard at work for you, providing all the knowledge you need on each of the runners, just as soon as the names are announced. In fact, our team will have been producing weekly updated form guides since those early September days. You might also have garnered Melbourne Cup tips from colleagues, friends and family – sometimes it seems that the whole of Australia has an opinion!
Melbourne Cup choices and odds
Perhaps on a hunch, or after considering the handicap for each horse, plus its wins, places or earnings record, and whether it qualified by winning a lead-up race or though the ballot process, you’ll have made your decision.
It’s vital now to gain the best price you can. This is why it pays to use our Melbourne Cup odds comparison tool here. We have designed it to pit the TAB against every one of Australia’s leading online bookies, which means you can assess where best to place your own bets.
Then, if you are not among the Flemington throng, you can stop what you’re doing for a few minutes and watch as the great drama unfolds. Good luck!