Melbourne Cup Winner Trends: What to Look Out For Ahead of ‘The Race That Stops a Nation’


Australia will come to a standstill when the world’s finest stayers battle for supremacy at the Melbourne Cup on November 3. The race that stops a nation has delighted punters across the country and around the world ever since it was first held in 1861. Melbourne Cup is a huge betting event this year, and we have compiled the key winner trends to help punters choose the right horse:

The Favourite Rarely Triumphs

It is always tempting to back the favourite to win the Melbourne Cup. After all, the favourite is generally in better form than the rest of the field and boasts an abundance of potential.

However, the favourite rarely lives up to that exalted status in this famous race. The last favourite to win the Melbourne Cup was $7 shot Fiorente in 2013.

Only four other outright favourites have won the race since 1983. The legendary Makybe Diva won twice as favourite in 2004 and 2005, while Jezabeel ($7) triumphed in 1998, Might And Power ($4.50) saluted in 1997 and Let’s Elope ($4) was victorious in 1991.

Since the inaugural Melbourne Cup, the favourite has won 34 times, at a strike rate of 21%, but those victories have dried up in recent times.

Long Shots Assemble

Last year, Vow and Declare won in controversial fashion at odds of $11.60, while $12 shot Cross Counter prevailed the previous year. Horses priced at 10-1 have won the race 15 times since it was inaugurated, while horses with odds of 8-1 have won it 14 times, so 8-1 to 12-1 is a bit of a sweet spot.

Four roughies have defied odds of 100-1 ($101) to win the race – The Pearl (1871), Wotan (1936), Old Rowley (1940), and Prince of Penzance (2015) – so you can never write off the long shots. It highlights the sheer depth of quality in the field each year at the Melbourne Cup, which is one of the world’s richest and most prestigious races.

Age Concern

Horses aged four and five have the best record at the Melbourne Cup. The race has been held 159 times since 1861, and four-year-old runners have secured 46 victories in that time. Five-year-olds have won 44 times, while horses aged six have picked up 33 wins, according to Punters.

There have been just 23 wins for three-year-olds over the years. English raider Cross Counter won the race as a three-year-old in northern hemisphere terms in 2018, but he was a four-year-old by Australian standards.

There have been 11 wins for seven-year-olds at the Melbourne Cup, but that does include 2016 champions Almandin, while Makybe Diva completed a stunning hat-trick aged seven in 2005. Only two eight-year-olds have ever won the race – Toryboy in 1865 and Catalogue in 1938. Most modern winners have been aged four to six.

Sex Matters

Male stayers have dominated the race since Makybe Diva retired in 2005. She is the last mare to secure victory in the race that stops a nation, with the male runners having won it 14 times in a row since then.

Since 1965, the only other female winners were Empire Rose in 1988, Let’s Elope in 1991, Jezabeel in 1998 and Ethereal in 2001. Last year, just two mares entered the race. Geldings have won it in four of the last five years.

Top Barriers and Saddlecloth Numbers

Barrier 5 is the most successful in Melbourne Cup history, having yielded eight winners over the years. Barriers 1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 14, 17, 19 and 22 have each contained seven winners. The unluckiest barrier is number 18, which has not had a single winner in the 84 years in which they have been in use.

Saddlecloth numbers 4 and 12 have been the most successful, with 11 wins apiece. Saddlecloth number 1 is next with 10 wins, followed by number 8, with eight wins. Blue and black have been the most successful jockey silk colours.

Tipping the Scales

The most successful weight since the Melbourne Cup began is 54.5kg, with eight wins. Americain won at that weight in 2010, followed by Dunaden in 2011, but no winners have carried 54.5kg since then.

Lighter horses perform well here, with seven wins apiece for 52.5kg and 53kg. Makybe Diva was handed a formidable 58kg when she won for the third time in 2005, but no other winner has carried more than 56.5kg since 1975.

Vow and Declare was lumbered with just 52kg when victorious last year, while 2018 winner Cross Counter had 51kg, Rekindling in 2017 had a weight of 51.5kg, Almandin carried 52kg in 2016 and roughie Prince of Penzance had a weight of 53kg in 2015.

Form Counts

Fourteen of the last 15 Melbourne Cup winners had previously secured victory in a Group race. The majority had raced within the previous four weeks, at either Geelong, Flemington, Caulfield or Moonee Valley.

International raiders have had a great deal of joy in recent years. Irish trained horses claimed a remarkable one-two-three when Rekindling finished ahead of Johannes Vermeer and Max Dynamite in 2017, while UK stayer Cross Counter prevailed in 2018. However, the raiders were ultimately no match for homegrown star Vow and Declare last year.

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