No other horse race on the Australian racing calendar attracts more punters than the Melbourne Cup race. It’s the one day of the year when just about everybody decides they’ll take a punt on the big race, even those who know nothing about racing.
But is the Melbourne Cup worth placing a bet on?
That really depends on what you hope the outcome will be. If you’re just placing a wager to make the race more exciting, and don’t particularly care whether you win or lose, then yes, the Cup can be fun to gamble on if you’re not serious about it.
What if you are serious about it though? What if you really do hope to pick the winner, score that trifecta and take home a decent payout?
The Truth About Betting On the Melbourne Cup
Let’s look at some cold, hard facts about the Melbourne Cup.
To start with, if you are going to make your bets based on the race odds, you could seriously be doing yourself a disservice.
No other race has its odds skewed as much as the actual Melbourne Cup race does. Why is this so?
Simply because you have so many random punters placing wagers on the race. It’s a horse race that attracts people who don’t normally bet on horse races, so many of the bets aren’t based on form, track conditions, the jockeys riding the horses, or who the best stayer likely will be.
These bets are mostly random.
As an example, let’s say the least fancied horse (least fancied by racing experts) had some really cool name, and this name led to 100,000 people betting on this horse to win the race just because they liked the name.
Based on the flurry of bets, that horse (not given a chance by experts), might suddenly appear to be the race favourite just because it’s popular. Is it likely to win? No, but on paper, it now looks like the favourite to win.
It’s one of the reasons why favourites have such a poor record in the great race that stops a nation. Favourites win less often in the Melbourne Cup than the average of all other races.
Another reason for this, and why it can be hard to pick a winner, is the quality of the field.
All 24 entrants in the race are horses in form and the best of the best. Not just the best thoroughbreds from Australia and New Zealand, but these days from all around the globe as well.
It costs a lot of money to send a champion racehorse and its team to Australian shores, so horse owners are only going to send their very best racehorses.
It’s a highly competitive field for sure, and a race where the biggest long shots even stand a chance of winning. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Favourites win less than a quarter of the time, long shots do sometimes come home to be first past the post, and more often than not, a slightly less fancied horse gets up to take the victory.
It’s arguably one of the hardest races of the year to accurately predict the eventual winner, which makes it even more difficult to predict more exotic bets such as the trifecta or first four.
Professional punters have the best chance of doing well when wagering on the Melbourne Cup, as they’ll have the most knowledge of all the horses, jockeys, trainers, form, track conditions, race distances for each horse and so on.
A lot goes into the research to seriously place wagers – and see consistent success – on big races.
Whether the Melbourne Cup is a good bet or not, it’s likely to remain the most highly bet on race on the calendar, as most people are just betting for fun anyway.