Everyone seems to turn into a racing expert come Melbourne Cup day, but picking a winner in the nation’s most famous race is a lottery for most Australians.
With a look at the history books Daily Mail Australia can reveal what once-a-year punters need to know when selecting a horse that can come out a winner over the 3200-metre course.
Some trends are clear over the Cup’s 162 years, and that evidence could be just the tip you need to cash in on Tuesday.
Before placing a bet, it’s a great idea to take a look at factors including the ages, sex, colour, weights, trainers and jockeys of past winners.
Every Australian pretends to be a horse racing expert come Melbourne Cup day, but picking a winner in the nation’s most famous race can seem a lottery for most once-a-year punters
Four and five-year-olds are the best bet to win the Cup, with horses of those ages winning on 46 and 45 occasions respectively.
Three-year-old horses, with 23 wins, usually struggle in running out the two miles against more seasoned opposition, and those seven years and older (with 15 victories) find it hard to produce consistently.
Six-year-olds have a strong recent record, with five winners since 2010 including Prince Of Penzance, Almandin and Verry Elleegant.
This year’s five-year-olds are: Soulcombe, Lastotchka, Magical Lagoon and More Felons. The only four-year-old is Virtuous Circle.
The six-year-old field is made up of Alenquer, Breakup, favourite Vauban, Absurde, Daqiansweet Junior, Okita Soushi, Military Mission, Future History and Interpretation.
With a little inside help and a look at the history books Daily Mail Australia can reveal what you need to know when selecting a horse that can stay the 3,200m course
Flemington’s biggest day has long been a male’s world in an equine sense.
Only 14 mares have won the Melbourne Cup and Verry Elleegant was the last to do so, in 2021. Makybe Diva did it three times and completed her hat-trick in 2005.
Stallions have won the race 73 times and geldings on 54 occasions.
The stallions, also referred to as ‘entires’, in this year’s race are: Gold Trip, Breakup, Okita Soushi and Virtuous Circle.
The geldings are: Alenquer, Without A Fight, Vauban, Soulcombe, Absurde, Right You Are, Vow And Declare, Ashrun, Daqiansweet Junior, Sheraz, Military Mission, Serpentine, More Felons, Future History, Interpretation, Kalapour and True Marvel.
Lastotchka and Magical Lagoon are mares.
Some trends are clear over the Cup’s 162 years, and that evidence could be just the tip you need to cash in on Tuesday
The most successful horse colour at the Cup since its inception in 1861 has been bay, winning 72 times, including Gold Trip in 2022.
However, this is almost certainly because it is by far the most common colour for racehorses.
Brown horses have won 38 times while chestnuts have been first past the post on 35 occasions. Greys have claimed the race only six times and black animals five times.
Soulcombe, Right You Are, Ashrun, More Felons, Future History, Alenquer, Breakup, Absurde, Daqiansweet Junior, Okita Soushi, Sheraz, Lastotchka, Magical Lagoon, and Kalapour are all bay.
The last three horses to carry more than 56.5kg to victory are Makybe Diva (58kg in 2005), Verry Elleegant (57kg in 2021) and top-weight Gold Trip (57.5kg in 2022).
Since 2000, the most successful winning weights have been 51-51.5kg, 52-52.5kg and 54-54.5kg, with four wins from each of those ranges.
Horses fitting into those weights this year are: Ashrun (51.5kg), Daqiansweet Junior (51.5kg), Okita Soushi, Sheraz, Lastotchka, Magical Lagoon, Military Mission, Serpentine and Virtuous Circle
Makybe Diva’s 58kg in the last of her three consecutive wins remains the heaviest weight a horse has carried to victory since 2000.
The most successful horse colour at the Cup since its inception in 1861 has been bay, winning 72 times, including Gold Trip in 2022 (above)
All eyes were on the mounting yard on Saturday for the barrier draw, with everyone keen to see where their chosen horse would jump come 3pm on Tuesday.
The most successful Melbourne Cup barrier has been 11 with eight winners, and four in the past 30 years. The most recent horse to win from the gate was Americain in 2010.
Since barriers were introduced in 1958, more horses have won from the four outside barriers (21 to 24) than have won from the four inside (1 to 4).
A wide barrier means the horse must either push forward hard at the start of the race to secure a spot near the running rail – and use much energy in doing so – or go towards the back of the field and hope to unleash a big finish.
Gold Trip, which won from barrier 14 last year has drawn 2 on Tuesday.
No horse had won from barrier 18 until Verry Elleegant saluted in 2021. Barriers 7 and 15 have been equally unlucky, producing one winner.
No horse has won from barriers 6, 7, 12, 15 or 24 for the past 40 years.
This year, Virtuous Circle is in 6, Magical Lagoon in 7, Daquiansweet Junior in 12, Right You Are in 15 and More Felons in 24.
Race favourite Vauban has drawn barrier 3.
The last three horses to carry more than 56.5kg to victory are Makybe Diva (58kg in 2005), Verry Elleegant (57kg in 2021) and top-weight Gold Trip (57.5kg in 2022)
Damien Oliver (1995, 2002, 2013), Glen Boss (2003, 2004, 2005), and Kerrin McEvoy (2000, 2016, 2018) are the most successful Melbourne Cup jockeys of the past 40 years.
Mark Zahra (2022), James McDonald (2021), Jye McNeil (2020), Craig Williams (2019), Brett Prebble (2012) and Blake Shinn (2008) have all won the big one.
This year Oliver is on Alenquer, McEvoy on Ashrun, Zahra on Without A Fight, McDonald on Gold Trip, McNeil on Serpentine, and Williams on Lastotchka.
Michelle Payne is the only female jockey to have won the race, taking Prince of Penzance to victory in 2015.
Rachel King will ride Military Mission for Gai Waterhouse, Jamie Kah is on More Felons and Hollie Doyle will guide Future History.
The most successful saddlecloth number has been 4 with a dozen wins in the race’s history. Verry Elleegant won carrying that number in 2021.
No 12 has scored 11 wins, as has No 1, most recently with Gold Trip last year. No 6 has saluted ten times, most recently with Twilight Payment (2020), while No 5 and No 8 have eight wins each.
This year, Breakup carries No 4, Daqiansweet Junior is No 12, Gold Trip returns at No 1, Soulcombe comes in at No 6, the favourite Vauban is No 5 and No 8 is Right You Are.
Michelle Payne is the only female jockey to win the Cup, taking Prince of Penzance to victory in 2015 (above). Rachel King, Jamie Kah and Hollie Doyle have mounts in this year’s race
International trainers have had lots of success in the Melbourne Cup in recent years, and have come to dominate the winners.
Irishman Dermot Weld was the first overseas raider to conquer with Vintage Crop in 1993 and later Media Puzzle in 2002.
Japanese trainer Katsuhiko Sumii had the 2006 winner Delta Blues, while Frenchman Alain de Royer Dupre became the 150th winner of the Cup with Americain in 2010.
Compatriot Mikel Dezangles followed the next year with Dunaden and the German-trained stayer Protectionist, prepared by Andreas Wohler, scored in 2014.
The race has been increasingly dominated by horses bred and trained overseas, where there is more emphasis on long-distance racing compared to Australia where most races are less than a mile long.
The trainers to have won the Melbourne Cup previously with entrants this year are Cairon Maher (2022), Chris Waller (2021), Danny O’Brien (2019), Gai Waterhouse (2013) and Mike Moroney (2000).
Maher, who trains in partnership with David Eustace, returns with Gold Trip as well as Ashrun, Future History, Interpretation and Right You Are.
Waller has Soulcombe, Sheraz, Magical Lagoon and More Felons, while Waterhouse, who trains with Adrian Bott, has Military Mission and Serpentine, and Moroney has Alenquer.
Trainers to have won the Melbourne Cup previously with entrants this year are Cairon Maher, Chris Waller, Danny O’Brien, Gai Waterhouse (above) and Mike Moroney
Of the owners, Lloyd Williams is the most successful with seven wins in 2020, 2017, 2016, 2012, 2007, 1985 and 1981.
This year he has a chance to claim another victory with Serpentine.
NUMBER OF WORDS IN A HORSE’S NAME
Horses with just one word in their names have also been the most successful in the Cup, having won 89 times.
This year’s one-word chances are: Alenquer, Breakup, Vauban, Soulcombe, Absurde, Ashrun, Sheraz, Lastotchka, Serpentine, Interpretation and Kalapour.
Gold Trip is among the 63 two-word horses to win. Apart from Gold Trip, this year’s two-word entrants are: Daqiansweet Junior, Okita Soushi, Magical Lagoon, Military Mission, Virtuous Circle, More Felons, Future History and True Marvel.
Only seven three-word names have won the Cup, with Vow And Declare the last in 2019.
BEWARE THE OUTSIDER
Since 1983, just five outright favourites have won: Fiorente ($7) in 2013, Makybe Diva ($4.50) in 2005 and at $3.50 in 2004, Jezabeel ($7) in 1998, Might And Power ($4.50) in 1997 and Let’s Elope ($4) in 1991.
Since the Cup was first run, four horses have won at odds of 100-1: The Pearl (1871), Wotan (1936), Old Rowley (1940) and Prince of Penzance three years ago.
Be wary when it comes to those at big odds, and there are several this year. Sheraz is paying $201, True Marvel, Virtuous Circle and Magical Lagoon are all at $151, Interpretation is $126 and Daqiansweet and Okita Soushi are $101.
Bet Right CEO Anthony Waller likes Lastotchka and Future History (above) as roughies
TEMPERAMENT, CONDITION AND COAT
Equine physiotherapist Tom Simpson has worked with Australia’s top racing stables and treated some of the best thoroughbreds in the world.
He believes the secret to picking a horse is just before the big race in the mounting yard.
‘Look at temperament – whether he’s got his game day face on,’ Simpson says. ‘More often than not you want a nice, relaxed horse.
‘You want to avoid horses that are slathering in sweat and running around controlling their handler.
‘The health of the coat and the fitness of the individual go hand in hand. That is quite reflective of how the horse is feeling and its general well-being.’
A horse’s condition is just as important. ‘Definition and muscle tone are key things that go into that,’ Simpson says.
‘You basically want to rule out a lack of fitness. You don’t want a really fat, roly poly kind of horse. At this level they’re all going to be pretty well spot-on.
‘You want to see the horse is peaking for that run. That’s the biggest thing – is it ready for that race? And then their action, the way they’re walking. You want them walking out nice and even.
‘Make sure the feet are stepping symmetrically, front and behind. Otherwise it might indicate an area of soreness which might impact negatively on their racing.’
Simpson says horses competing in staying races such as the 3,200m Cup should be more relaxed than those running in sprints, typically 1000 to 1200m.
Since 1983, just five outright favourites have won: Fiorente in 2013, Makybe Diva in 2005 and 2004, Jezabeel in 1998, Might And Power in 1997 and Let’s Elope in 1991
ADVICE FROM THE EXPERT
Vauban might be the race favourite but its best form appeared to be over hurdles, according to Bet Right CEO Anthony Waller.
‘For that reason, Bet Right will be making sure we are best price on Vauban for those who want to jump on the bandwagon,’ he says.
Waller suggests punters looking for a form should consider the lightly raced import Without a Fight.
‘Without A Fight looks set to join some illustrious company by winning Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup and thus completing the Caulfield/Melbourne Cup double,’ he says.
Since running unplaced in last year’s cup when having his first Australian start, Without A Fight has been a model of consistency culminating in a narrow but decisive win in the Caulfield feature at his most recent outing, according to Waller.
Waller also likes the Japanese horse, Breakup.
‘Japanese horses have proved themselves in the Cup with Delta Blues and Pop Rock running the quinella in 2006,’ he says.
Bet Right CEO Anthony Waller suggests punters looking for a form line should consider the lightly raced import Without a Fight (above)
‘The Japanese raider Breakup could be the improver. Breakup ran down the track in the Caulfield Cup in his Australian debut but is more likely to be suited with the extra distance and space at Flemington.’
Waller will not discount Gold Trip either.
‘Then there is last year’s winner Gold Trip who is not without a chance and despite going up in the weights, goes into this year’s race with arguably better form than this time last year,’ he says.
‘Finally, if you’re looking for big value with a few roughies, both Future History and Lastotchka have claims.
‘The Maher and Eustace trained Future History rarely runs a bad race and carrying the minimum weight should give account of himself.
‘Lastotchka is a lightly race French mare/filly having her first Australian run. At her most recent start Lastotchka was full of running in wining over a similar trip and with gun Jockey Craig Williams on board should get every chance.’