Australia’s spring carnival racing season is now in full swing, and we will be treated to several blue-chip races Down Under over the coming weeks. But all roads lead to Flemington Racecourse on November 1st for the Lexus Melbourne Cup 2022. The “race that stops a nation” doesn’t herald an end to the spring calendar, but it very much represents the climax of the season.
The Melbourne Cup does, of course, attract more international attention than any other Australian horse race. Its purse – $8 million this year – is big enough to attract some of the best global talent to try their luck down under. And it goes without saying that it’s a big draw for racing fans in the online betting markets. But is it a good race to bet on? It’s certainly always a cracking event, but its unpredictability can be a turn-off for some bettors.
A race that does not favor the favorites
For a start, this is a brutal race to back the favorite in. Only once in the last 17 years (Fiorente, 2013) has the starting favorite gone on to win the race. In the same period, favorites have only placed in the top three four times. Last year’s race, for example, was headed up by Incentivize, who was priced up at under 2/1 (+200), representing one of the shortest-priced SPs in the race’s modern history. He could only manage second place behind the eventual winner, Verry Elleegant.
Of course, for bettors, that can be a two-way street. If the favorite is not winning, then there is a chance to find betting value further down the markets. The last six winners of the Melbourne Cup have been priced at odds above 10/1. Verry Elleegant, who is skipping the 2022 event in an effort to get glory in Europe, came in at a tasty 17/1; the 2015 winner, Prince of Penzance, had odds of 100/1. So, there are bargains to be snapped up by punters looking to get some value.
One of the problems, however, is that the Melbourne Cup often represents a step into the unknown. The two market leaders (at the time of writing) are Deauville Legend and Loft. The former is a 3yo British-trained horse and the latter is a German-trained 4yo. Of course, American racing fans might remember Loft from his exploits at Belmont in June, where he took the Belmont Gold Stakes in formidable fashion. But neither horse has run in Australia before, and that lack of acclimatization can raise doubts.
International runners can – and do – succeed
That is not to say that international runners can’t come Down Under and plunder the biggest spoils on their first try. Trainers have become much more adept at traveling with horses, and there should be no doubt that runners like Deauville Legend and Loft will lack anything when it comes to preparation for such a big event. But, nonetheless, you simply never know how a horse will react to new surroundings, in this case, a race taking place halfway around the world from their usual stomping grounds. Still, international trainers have had plenty of luck in recent years, so you can’t rule anything out.
As for the ‘home team’, there is plenty to like from the Australian and New Zealand contingent, including Duais, Smokin Romans, and Alegron. Many horses will be in action in other events across the spring carnival schedule before the ‘big one’ on November 1st, and that will certainly shake up the betting markets. But overall, our advice on race day is that you should probably not pay too much attention to the odds if you are having a flutter on the Melbourne Cup. History shows it has little bearing on the outcome of Australia’s most famous horse race.