How to find the Melbourne Cup winner

May 7, 2019 | By More

The Melbourne Cup is by far the biggest race on the Australian racing calendar. It is the race that stops the nation and reaches a global audience of millions. It is therefore crucial for every self-respecting individual to find the Melbourne Cup winner.

The Cup’s importance on the world stage is unparalleled. Well over 120 countries and up to 700 million people around the world watch the race. A leading betting company takes up to 850 bets per second on the Melbourne Cup. Another wagering giant takes more than 15 million bets on Cup day.

Little wonder it occupies the attention of punters for an entire year. Professional punters invest heavily in form analysis, looking for insights and opportunities to get into the futures markets. Amateurs, the once-a-year punters, self-proclaimed experts all desperate to have an opinion on who will win the Cup.

The race is run on the first Tuesday in November, a favourite public holiday in Melbourne. On the Monday before The Cup, productivity plummets as workers (who haven’t taken the long weekend) exchange tips, yarns and insight. The environment is exciting, a carnival atmosphere, and all the talk is of horses, form, jockeys and betting plays. It’s a great time to be in Melbourne.

The sheer enormity of The Cup makes it important for everyone to figure out a successful betting strategy to win on Australia’s greatest race.

For a basic introduction to the great race, check out our quick guide to the Melbourne Cup for 2020. Heaps of tips to make your Melbourne Cup day experience more enjoyable and profitable.

Melbourne Cup tips

In Australia, it’s an important task for every individual to find the Melbourne Cup winner.

Important for many reasons; work, life and personal well-being.

From a career perspective, tipping the winner to your boss, supervisor or work colleague, earns more brownie points than any number of KPI’s you may have managed to achieve.

In life, selecting the Cup winner can represent one of your fondest memories. Where you were at the time? Who you were with? How did you celebrate?

It can do wonders for personal well-being too. It’s uplifting and builds confidence.

So get to it! Find that elusive Melbourne Cup winner.

How do you find the Melbourne Cup winner?

The task is not easy but nothing ever is when there are great rewards on offer.

Most punters study the form over a number of weeks, slowly formulating their ideas and how they will play their bets.

The defeatist says “it’s almost impossible to work out form lines these days.”

“All you can do is narrow it down to a handful of chances and take a few value each-way bets.”

However, hard work on form study in the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup can result in highly-informed and considered opinion as to which horse will win.

With the correct research and information, awareness and intuition, finding the Melbourne Cup winner can be straight-forward.

Aside from your own diligent research, we will help you with our racing tips and best bets. We follow the Cup form closely, to help you find the winner.

There are many factors to consider to find the Melbourne Cup winner.

Melbourne Cup weights

The Melbourne Cup might stop the nation but weight can stop a train.

Many champions have failed in the Cup due to the huge imposts they were asked to carry. Kingston Town was a champion racehorse but the 59kg he carried in the 1982 Cup was too much of a burden to bear. Tulloch was beaten with 64kg in 1960. Northerly was given 60kg in the 2002 Melbourne Cup but connections declined to run him. Only great two-milers like Makybe Diva could overcome the handicapper. She won her three Melbourne Cups with 51kg, 55.5kg and 58kg, the latter a weight carrying record.

The average weight carried to victory over the past 30 years of the Cup is 53.5 kg. The minimum weight in the Melbourne Cup is 49kg for 3YO horses and 50kg for 4YO+ horses. The minimum top weight is 58kg at weights time, with no minimum top weight at acceptance time. Mares automatically receive a 2kg allowance. 

Melbourne Cup is a handicap

The Melbourne Cup is a handicap and weights are set by the Chief Handicapper at Racing Victoria. He and his team assess the chances of each nominee and assign a weight that they consider will result in the horse crossing the finish line equal with every other runner.

Trainers and owners can prepare their horses by racing in key lead-up events with all form exposed to the public, and be satisfied with the weight given. Alternatively, the connections may prepare their horses in private and attempt to get into the race with a weight that is lower than their ability suggests. The latter strategy is to get “under the handicapper’s radar”. With the significant international team involved at Racing Victoria, and the necessity to qualify for the race by competing in designated races, the latter is an extremely difficult task.

Under the radar

Recently, there have been a couple of instances where emerging stayers have been able to sneak into the race without a weight that truly reflects their ability. The new stereotype of Cup winner, a highly-rated Northern Hemisphere 3YO (4YO in Australa), has been able to get into The Cup possibly 2kg under it’s true weight. 

As an example, Cross Counter’s Cup weight was 51kg, yet after weights were released he ran 2nd in the G2 Great Voligeur in Europe and attained a rating of 123. He still got into the race with a light weight. At a starting price of $12.00, he was a terrific each-way chance.

Almandin, admittedly an older horse, had a rating of 117 after his win in the Bart Cummings (2500m) but had more weight (52kg) than Cross Counter.

Emerging young stayers from overseas appear to be beating the handicapper. The punter needs to be aware of these emerging types and determine whether their weight is less than deserved.

Melbourne Cup is won by experienced stayers

Two mile experience – their record at 3200m. Many older folk swear by the adage, you must have already won over two miles to win The Cup.

Bart Cummings poured over 10,000 metres of race fitness into the legs of his Cup winners. Punters should study the Melbourne Cup lead-up form closely to identify patterns.

Punters advocate other Melbourne Cup systems.

“The old Tony Arrold system I used to follow for about 3 decades was phenomenal, only missing a handful of times. Involved 4 leadup races – Caulfield Cup, MacKinnon Stakes, Moonee Valley Cup and Hotham Hcp, and a clear set of rules. Race changes and foreign horses have made it less relevant, only striking about 6 times in the last 16 years. It’s too hard now with such a variety of horses coming through different overseas races and the variety of training methods.” The last winner to qualify using this system was Prince of Penzance who had run 2nd to The United States in the MV Cup.

On the other hand, the WS Cox Plate is not a good form line. The last Melbourne Cup winner to run in the Cox Plate was Fiorente in 2013. After Rising Fast won the Cox Plate – Melbourne Cup double in 1954, no horse has done it again until Saintly in 1996. Since then, Makybe Diva completed the double in the same year. Makybe Diva won the Cox Plate and then the Cup with 58kg. All in all, there are not sufficient successes to call the Cox Plate a good form-line for The Cup.

Placings in the Caulfield Cup

“Placings in the Caulfield Cup usually win the Melbourne Cup,” was an age-old adage.

This theory in recent times has not been successful.

Viewed in 2010 wast the last Melbourne Cup winner to run in the Caulfield Cup, as part of its lead-up campaign. He ran 10th in the Caulfield Cup. The last Melbourne Cup winner to place in the Caulfield Cup was Delta Blues who ran 3rd in 2006. Johannes Vermeer placed in the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup in 2017. 

The Caulfield Cup is not the guide it used to be for the Melbourne Cup.

“The simple and effective method in the old days was to look for the best Cup trial out of the Caulfield Cup. This was the best form guide for the Cup but today it’s the opposite. Probably more misleading than anything,” said one villager.

For an emerging young stayer, it’s advisable to avoid winning the Caulfield Cup and risk a penalty. 

In the past 40 years, only five horses have carried a Caulfield Cup penalty to win The Melbourne Cup — Let’s Elope, Doriemus, Ethereal, Gurner’s Lane and Might and Power.

At least now, with new rules in place, the international horses who carry 56kg or above, can’t receive a penalty for the Melbourne Cup. Moving forward, things may be different and the Caulfield Cup once again becomes a fantastic Cup form-line.

Pedigree of Melbourne Cup winners

Pedigree is an important factor to consider when trying to find the Melbourne Cup winner.

Melbourne Cup winners are bred to run two miles. They have pedigrees with staying elements, usually on both their paternal and maternal sides. Noted stamina influences include Zabeel, Le Filou and more recently Sadler’s Wells.

In the last 11 years, 4 winners of the Melbourne Cup have come from the Sadler’s Wells male line, through High Chapparral (Rekindling), Galileo (Cross Counter), Montjeu (Green Moon) and Scenic (Viewed).

Almandin, Protectionist and Fiorente were by champion German stallion Monsun.

Zabeel has also been influential through the deeds of Might and Power, Jezabeel and Efficient.

Training, environment and jockey skills aside, pedigree is an important determinant in the ability of the horse to run the 3200m. 

Melbourne Cup Barrier draw

Barriers normally make a significant difference in horse racing. An inside draw can make it easier for jockeys to secure a good position in running and hence save on ground. An outside barrier draw means that the horse must use up energy to get across to the fence. It can also drop back to avoid being caught out wide rounding a turn. Not so in the Melbourne Cup!

Melbourne Cup barriers
Melbourne Cup winning barriers for the past 30 years show they have no real influence on the outcome.

Barriers tend to make very little difference to the outcome of the Melbourne Cup. Data from the last 30 years shows clearly that horses can win from any barrier; from inside, outside or middle gates.

The reason is likely due to the extremely long straight before entering the first turn. Jockeys have plenty of time to get across and/or jostle for position. As evidence of this the Melbourne Cup often turns into a procession of pairs, before horses begin to make their moves mid-race. Jockeys caught wide on the first turn have no excuse.

The barrier draw still attracts a large audience even though it has little consequence on the outcome. Thousands of people, the press, race officials, connections and the general public watch the event.

Track conditions for the Melbourne Cup

Track condition is an important variable in the Melbourne Cup, and something that can throw form calculations into chaos. It is particularly important now that the Cup entertains a large proportion of UK and European entrants. Racetracks in the Northern Hemisphere are much softer than Australian racetracks. Hence some horses with good form in the Northern Hemisphere may find the Flemington track too firm and “jar up”. UK and European horses usually prefer soft conditions. Japanese horses on the other hand prefer good tracks. Their chances may be uncertain in rain-affected conditions.

Not all imports follow these rules. Pre-race favourite Yucatan was noticeably unfavoured by the pre-race deluge in 2018. More than 30mm of rain fell in the morning of the race, which sent the track from a Good 4 to Heavy 8. It recovered to a Soft 6 by race time. However, many jockeys confirmed that their horses were affected by the change in track conditions.

Experienced stables

Godolphin proved that it takes many years of experimentation to get the right formula to win a Melbourne Cup. They had been trying to win The Cup for 30 years since having its first runner in the event, and finally achieved the ultimate prize in 2018.

A new method can open up opportunities for success. Bart Cummings won a dozen Cups using his unique formula, from yearling to winners stall. Lloyd Williams has won The Cup on six occasions and seems to have found the plan for success.

It makes sense then to follow the stables who have developed a winning formula. A good strategy is to find one in the Godolphin or Williams yards, with unexposed form. An emerging Northern Hemisphere 3YO will likely slip under the radar and get into the race with a light weight.

Melbourne Cup winning strategies from left field

Alternative strategies also help punters find the Melbourne Cup winner. These strategies have less in the way of logic to them.

Some of the more obscure ones are:

  • The horse with some connection to WA. Double your bet if trained by one of the Cummings.
  • Back the last start winners within 21 days, with starting price 20/1 or under.
  • Stick with low weighted, up and coming types, not the established horses. They seem to be weighted very generously compared to talent.
  • Print off a chart with 24 squares. Flip a $2 coin (has to be $2) and whichever square it lands is your winner.
  • Close your eyes and throw a dart.

Local horses have little chance in the Melbourne Cup

The chances of a local stayer winning the Cup have been significantly reduced in recent years. The nature of the handicapping and the narrowing of the weight scale means that light weights with less than outstanding form have little chance of even making the race.

Prince of Penzance was the last local horse and it’s not clear when the next will come.

“Cox Plate types won’t win a Cup again under current handicapping. The years of Saintly and Co. are long gone. Winx would get what? 56? 58? Absolutely no chance against trained two milers carrying 50 to 52 kg,” said one disillusioned villager.

The problem is a combination of things but probably we haven’t had a stayer good enough to win The Cup.

Finding the Melbourne Cup winner is not an easy task but diligent form study, an open mind and months of hard work can significantly increase your chances. Good luck!


Members of the Thoroughbred Village forums are acknowledged for their insights and expertise in relation to this topic. In particular, I wish to acknowledge our valued member, Jamal, who provided the original topic of discussion, “Methods on Finding the Melbourne Cup Winner”, as well as much supplementary information and insight. The expertise of the village community of punters is unparalleled and a constant source of information and advice.

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Category: Melbourne Cup, Punting Advice

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