Futures betting strategies for the Melbourne Cup

April 11, 2019 | By More

Futures betting is one of the most popular types of betting on the Melbourne Cup, as it allows punters to bet many months in advance.

Bets can be placed well in advance of the field being announced, even before nominations and acceptances are taken.

The Melbourne Cup is a fantastic opportunity for betting on these ante-post or futures markets because it’s a year-long lead up to the event.

If you identify a horse early on that will make the necessary progress to be competitive in The Cup, there is tremendous value on offer in futures markets.

Futures betting offers this value because of the inherent risk associated with the horse even making the final field let alone winning!

Almost all of these markets are “all-in” meaning that the bet is taken even if the horse does not make it to the race.

Some punters love to make long-term predictions and be rewarded handsomely with large dividends.

Those betting on futures markets, like most punters, love to brag about their bets.

You would hear for example, “I had $20 at 100-1 on this horse back in February!” about one of the favoured runners.

There are few greater achievements as a punter than identifying the Melbourne Cup winner many months in advance.

Current odds on the 2019 Melbourne Cup

Betting on futures is as easy as placing any bet on horse racing.

If you look at a futures market for the 2019 Melbourne Cup, you can see the current list of horses thought to be a chance in this year’s race.

As of today, 11th April, the current favourite is last year’s winner Cross Counter at $13.

He has only just returned to racing with a strong win in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan on March 30.

Given he’s a gelding and racing well, there is every likelihood he will make the trip down for another tilt at the Melbourne Cup.

The interest is in the weight he will be given for the repeat attempt, this time as a Northern Hemisphere 4YO.

Next line of betting in Melbourne Cup futures markets is a wall of horses on $34.

You will never see prices like this again as the race draws closer.

What do you think? Do you have a Unibet Account?

Having even a small bet before additional information on the horses becomes available is prudent now before the odds begin to fall.

Research is key for betting on Melbourne Cup futures markets

What should we look for when betting on futures markets?

Futures betting requires diligent form study over an extended period.

The most important thing is to pay close attention to historically relevant lead up races.

Melbourne Cup lead-up form can be over many months, if not a year, in advance.

In the last decade or two, the most important form lines have been generated in the UK and Europe.

Some of the most important races to keep an eye on with a view to The Cup are;

  • Chester Cup, Chester England
  • Ascot Gold Cup, Royal Ascot England
  • Cesarewitch Handicap, Newmarket England
  • Curragh Cup, The Curragh Ireland
  • Ebor Handicap, York England
  • Goodwood Cup, Goodwood England
  • Gordon Stakes, Goodwood England
  • Grosser Preis von Baden, Baden Baden Germany
  • Grosser Preis von Bayern, Munich Germany
  • Hansa-Preis, Hamburg Germany
  • Hardwicke Stakes, Royal Ascot England
  • Irish St Leger, The Curragh Ireland
  • John Porter Stakes, Newbury England
  • Lonsdale Cup, York England
  • Northumberland Plate, Newcastle England
  • Geofrey Freer Stakes, Newbury England
  • Prix de Kergolay, Deauville France
  • Tenno Sho, Kyoto Japan

These races have produced past Cup winners or at least, horses that have been among the more fancied runners in The Cup.

Study each race as it happens, or on replay.

You can usually find them somewhere on YouTube, not long after the race is run.

Read the reports, reviews, trainer quotes, jockey assessments, the stories behind the winners and placegetters.

Get an understanding of how progressive the horse might be and whether its long-range target is our great race.

Ultimately, for the futures punter to find the Melbourne Cup winner, watching all the key lead-up races is critical.

Beating the handicapper

The most important opponent for runners in the Melbourne Cup is the handicapper.

Racing Victoria’s chief handicapper, Greg Carpenter, announces the Melbourne Cup weights usually around mid-September. 

The challenge for trainers is to beat the handicapper.

It is a great challenge to have the horse gain race experience and natural improvement under race conditions without giving too much away.

Trainers do not want to reveal their horse’s true ability and risk it being handicapped to the max, or at least excessively.

The handicapper has access to a team of experts who scour the racing world and it’s rare that a good horse escapes their attention.

Thus, the futures punter needs to take this veil of secrecy into account and look for horses that are showing good potential and progression.

It’s a little like finding the hidden value in nominations and acceptances.

The modern strategy for winning the Melbourne Cup

In recent years, the strategy has been to identify a young and unproven horse that shows enormous potential.

Rekindling changed the game in 2017.

In his 3YO season he failed miserably in the Epsom Derby but stepped up even further in distance to produce a strong finish in the G2 Curragh Cup.

Two subsequent good efforts in the St Legers of Ireland and England saw him packaged up and sent to Australia for a Cup campaign.

Due to his less than spectacular form, Rekindling received a weight of 51.5kg.

He arrived as a Southern Hemisphere 4YO, after just hitting his straps in the UK and showing enormous potential. 

Rekindling eventually won The Melbourne Cup at only his 10 start.

He was a young horse that showed enormous promise but hadn’t yet reached his full potential in one of the important lead up races.

Cross Counter

The following year, Charles Appleby, trainer for Godolphin, brought a similar type to Melbourne for a Cup tilt.

Appleby consulted champion jockey Kerrin McEvoy about what type of horse was needed to win the big race down under.

Godolphin had been trying for years with no success.

Obviously they needed to reassess the strategies that they were employing to capture one of the world’s greatest races, that until now had eluded them.

McEvoy advised the Godolphin trainer to aim to get a horse into the race with a light weight.

The horse needs to be a talented younger horse, a 3YO, with form that is very progressive rather than fully proven.

Appleby knew he had the right horse back in his English stables.

Cross Counter had easily beaten Derby runnerup Dee Ex Bee in the Gordon Stakes. He then ran second in Great Voltigeur Stakes (Group 2) at York.

After his record-breaking Gordon Stakes win, he was installed a 25-1 shot for The Cup in Australia.

Cross Counter went on to win The Cup, as a Northern Hemisphere 3YO (4YO in Australia), and at only his 8th start in a race.

He carried 51kg, and saddlecloth number 23, indicative of how far down he was in the weights.

A year later, Charles Appleby said about Cross Counter, “He is a horse who we saw progress last year.”

“Going in to the Melbourne Cup he broke the track record at Goodwood, and was beaten by a horse who we like in Old Persian in the Great Voltigeur.”

Cross Counter, and Rekindling the previous year, showed that the weight relief for Northern Hemisphere 3YO’s can be a great advantage.

Key learnings for Melbourne Cup futures betting

The key learning is to look for an unproven yet highly progressive and talented horse.

A horse to conceivably escape the handicapper with a weight of less than 52kg.

An easy formula, but a challenge for the punter to identify the right horse.

Research the international lead up races, have a keen and observant eye, and monitor information from the leading stables.

Put in hours and hours of work, as we do for our racing tips and best bets page.

These strategies should get you good returns from betting on futures markets.

The rewards are far better than from waiting for everything to be revealed.

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Category: Betting Strategies, Melbourne Cup

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