Better the devil you know... Brett Prebble drives Green Moon to victory in the 2012 Melbourne Cup. Photo: Pat Scala
When it comes to the Melbourne Cup, as a collective group of gamblers, we suck. Big time.
No amount of hard work and thorough reading of form guides can prepare you for the massive let down on Cup day when the horse that seemed unbeatable in your mind just 150 seconds earlier trots over the line in 20th, some 30 lengths behind the winner.
Thanks grandma! ... On a Jeune comes in second behind Makybe Diva in the 2005 Melbourne Cup. Photo: Vince Caligiuri
For on Cup day, all logic goes out the window. But that doesn't stop us.
We’re the little engine that could, determined to try and try again. We’ve each got our own theories on how to find the winner, but for the rookie punters out there, here’s a gambler’s guide that could have you cheering down the straight come 3pm on Tuesday.
It’s all in a name (and numbers and colours)
Still call Australia home... Dear Demi finished third in the Caulfield Cup and gets into the Melbourne Cup with a light weight. Photo: Pat Scala
It’s a betting style that makes regular punters cringe, but I admit this method of gambling can make as much sense as any when it comes to the Melbourne Cup. Past results have shown we can rarely rely on the favourite – only 34 pre-race favourites have won the Cup, the last being the great Makybe Diva. So why not go with a name, lucky number or even favourite colour? Horse names are a way of personalising the Cup for once-a-year punters. I still remember when my fiance backed On A Jeune each-way in 2005 because her grandma’s name is June ... yeah, I know, it’s a stretch, and I had a quiet snicker behind her back. But she had the last laugh when it rocketed home for second place paying a lazy $61.
Tip: Each to their own, but if it’s a name you’re after for the 2013 Melbourne Cup, perhaps Voleuse de Coeurs takes your fancy. It’s a French phrase, whose trainers have taken out two of the last three Cups. And it means ‘‘thief of hearts’’ ... anyone dealing with a difficult heartbreak out there?
Better the devil you know
There’s a reason why Caulfield Cup winners, Cox Plate winners or former Melbourne Cup runners generally gather betting support in the Big One. For the once-a-year punters, these horses are winners already and worthy of a wager. Horses such as Dunaden, Americain, and Viewed returned after winning the Cup and were heavily backed by so-called experts and novices alike.
Tip: Where to start? Taking it from the top, Fawkner won this year’s Caulfield Cup, Dunaden won this race in 2011, Green Moon won the Cup in 2012, Fiorente was second last year, and Red Cadeaux was second to Dunaden in 2011. All five of these horses warrant their start in the Cup in 2013 and are a realistic chance on their best day. But bet cautiously, it takes a super, super effort to win this race once, let alone twice.
The Cummings effect
Two words: Bart Cummings. It was no coincidence that Precendence hogged the headlines last week despite not being assured a start in the Cup. He’s trained by Cummings, the Cup’s King with 12 wins. He’s had more runners in the race than he’s had birthdays. Despite the uncertainty, Precedence reeled the punters in and was well kept in betting markets at $67. That seems like a lot, but when the last two winners of the race – Dunaden and Green Moon – are on the line of betting above at $41, it seems a ludicrously short price for a horse whose best result in the Cup is ninth.
Tip: Keep your money. With Precedence narrowly missing out on a Cup start, Cummings is without a runner in this year’s event. If you’re looking for a connection, perhaps have a wager on Ruscello. The international won his spot in the race by winning the Lexus Stakes, subsequently knocking Precedence out of a run.
No shock jocks
Much like Cummings, if punters get wind of a popular or red-hot jockey, then it’s a frenzy. Remember 11 years ago when Media Puzzle won the race? With Damien Oliver booked for the ride in the Big One, the racing world was shocked when Oliver’s brother Jason died in a racing accident in Perth just a week before the Melbourne Cup. Media Puzzle was backed off the map – and won the race. There’s no doubting Media Puzzle was a strong chance to win the race, but Oliver’s story before the race certainly lured in many Cup punters.
Tip: Damien Oliver is once again in the public domain, but this time for the wrong reasons. After a 10-month suspension for betting on races, he’s landed the ride on hot-pot Fiorente in the Cup. Of the other jockeys with an interesting side story, Jim Cassidy could be one to follow. He joined the true immortals of the sport on Saturday when winning his 100th group 1 and could make it No.101 on Hawkspur. It’s also 30 years since his first group 1 win – on Kiwi in the 1983 Cup.
Still call Australia home
With the Melbourne Cup fast becoming a who’s who of international racing, many punters are keen to back Australian made horses in the race. It’s getting harder and harder to find them – since 2006, horses from Japan, France and Ireland have won the race, as well as three from Australia. This year there’s another strong overseas contingent, with horses from France, Great Britain, Ireland, Germany and New Zealand fronting up to win the riches available.
Tip: People looking to back an Australian-bred, Australian-trained horse could do worse than throwing a lazy fiver on Dear Demi. She finished third in the Caulfield Cup and gets into the Melbourne Cup with a light weight. She is bred and owned by advertising guru John Singleton, and trained by veteran Aussie Clarry Conners. Not sure if you want to spend the cash? Think of Singo, who has backed his four-year-old to win $6million with the bookies ... that’s some serious cash.
It’s still a mystery
Still unsure of where to put your money? There’s always the boxed mystery trifecta. A $6 bet gets you three horses, and if they finish first, second and third, in any order, you get the full 100 per cent payout of the trifecta dividend. It’s a lottery, but the race has a knack of throwing a surprise in the top three. Think of last year, when the trifecta paid a lazy $50,000 with some agencies when Green Moon, Fiorente and Jakkalberry rounded out the top three. Multiples are a great way to bet small and win big. You can choose your outlay, with the winning percentage changing accordingly. Don’t believe it? In last year’s race, a first-time punter put 8c on Green Moon, Fiorente, Jakkalberry and Kelinni to finish in the top four. Her collect: a smidge over $77,000.
For the record, my tips on Tuesday are:
3. Dear Demi
Now cue the laughter and finger pointing. Good luck!
Where to bet
ACTTAB will run temporary venues across the city on Tuesday for punters, with outlets set up at the Press Club, Ox Eatery, the Lighthouse, Siren Bar, City Labor Club, Tongue & Groove and EQ Cafe. ACTTAB will be taking Melbourne Cup bets from Sunday, with regular outlets open all day Sunday, Monday all day until late, and Tuesday from 7am. Check the website for more information on opening hours and outlets near you.
Staff will be available to help you place your bet on the Cup, and ACTTAB has a $15 Cup pack: 15 bets for $15 dollars which includes a boxed trifecta and boxed quinella.