Who you should back in the Melbourne Cup
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Who you should back in the Melbourne Cup

They say there's a science to doing the form but in the Melbourne Cup, such an unpredictable race with such a big field, picking out a winner isn't easy.

Fiorente was the last favourite to salute and that was in 2013, so it's fair to say the best-backed horse is by no means a certainty to win.

The favourite: Aidan O'Brien-trained Yucatan.

The favourite: Aidan O'Brien-trained Yucatan.Credit:AAP

Here's a guide on who to back in Tuesday's big race, according to the experts, the omens and statistics taken from the fabled race's long history.

What The Age's experts say:
Tim Habel - 11 Yucatan, 1 Best Solution, 24 Rostropovich, 10 Avilius
Michael Lynch - 24 Rostropovich, 11 Yucatan, 1 Best Solution, 9 Marmelo
Peter Ellis - 11 Yucatan, 5 Muntahaa, 2 The Cliffsofmoher, 9 Marmelo
Chris Roots - 11 Yucatan, 2 The Cliffsofmoher, 13 Finche, 16 Ventura Storm
Adam Pengilly - 5 Muntahaa, 11 Yucatan, 22 Youngstar, 3 Magic Circle
Max Presnell - 11 Yucatan, 1 Best Solution, 9 Marmelo, 10 Avilius
Peter Ryan - 11 Yucatan, 23 Cross Counter, 10 Avilius, 9 Marmelo

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What the bookies say (Sportsbet fixed odds):
Favourite - 11 Yucatan ($5.50)
The five next best - 3 Magic Circle ($8), 23 Cross Counter ($10), 5 Muntahaa ($11), 1 Best Solution ($12), 10 Avilius ($13)

The best roughie:
24 Rostropovich ($27) or Finche ($27)

Rostropovich at Werribee Racecourse earlier in the week.

Rostropovich at Werribee Racecourse earlier in the week. Credit:AAP

Fancy a crack at The Age quaddie? Tim Habel's tips:
Melbourne Cup race 7 - 1, 10, 11, 24
Furphy Stakes race 8 - 1, 7, 11, 14
MSS Security Sprint race 9 - 1, 2, 5, 6
Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes race 10 - 7, 9, 12, 16, 17

**$20 bet would get you 6.25 per cent of $1 dividend

Best barriers:

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Barrier 5 (eight wins, last in 2013) = 14 Red Cardinal ($35)
Barrier 11 (seven wins, last in 2010) = 10 Avilius ($13)
Barrier 10 (six wins, last 2014) = 9 Marmelo ($15)
Barrier 14 (six wins, last in 2005) = 19 Sir Charles Road ($71)
Barrier 8 (five wins, last in 2008) = 22 Youngstar ($16)

Worst barriers:

Barrier 18 (no wins) = 7 Who Shot Thebarman ($34)
Barrier 15: (one win) = 13 Finche ($27)
Barrier 7 (two wins) = 16 Ventura Storm ($26)
Barrier 2 (two wins) = 15 Vengeur Masque ($26)
Barrier 12 (two wins) = 21 Runaway ($35)
Barrier 20 (two wins) = 17 Prince of Arran ($18)

Best saddle numbers:

Red Cardinal will jump from the luckiest barrier in 2018's race. .

Red Cardinal will jump from the luckiest barrier in 2018's race. .Credit:AAP

Saddle numbers 4 and 12 have won 11 times, this year those horses are (4) Chestnut Coat ($61) and (12) Auvray ($91)

Most successful horse colours:
Bay is the way to go (although they're the most common horse "type"). Nine of the last 12 winners have been bays.

Battle of the sexes:
Male horses dominate the Cup. Female horses have won the Cup on only 16 occasions, three of them Makybe Diva.

Oldie but a goodie: Who Shot Thebarman will run from the unluckiest barrier.

Oldie but a goodie: Who Shot Thebarman will run from the unluckiest barrier. Credit:AAP

What age is a winner?
Four-year-olds and five-year-olds have won the most (44 times each). The next best are six-year-olds (33 wins) and three-year-olds (23 wins).

The Age's octopus tip:
Oddly enough, there isn't an octopus in the Age office (like the one that picks World Cup winners). Instead, the tried and true method of closing your eyes and dropping a pen on the list of runners was used. The pen landed on: (17) A Prince of Arran.

They're going to win eventually ...
Godolphin - the powerful global racing stable that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai pours millions of dollars into - has never won a Melbourne Cup despite attempts with numerous horses over the past 18 years. Godolphin has had three seconds and one third in all those attempts.

The stable will win a Cup one day. In this year's race they have three runners: (1) Best Solution, (10) Avilius (trained by James Cummings, the grandson of Melbourne Cup King Bart Cummings) and (23) Cross Counter.

Godolphin will win a Cup eventually. Avilius is a good chance for them this year.

Godolphin will win a Cup eventually. Avilius is a good chance for them this year. Credit:AAP

What's in a name?

  • If you're a classical music fan tip (24) Rostropovich, who is named after Russian cellist and conductor Mstislav Leopoldovich "Slava" Rostropovich.
  • Do you enjoy natural Irish scenery? (2) The Cliffsofmoher is your bet then, named after the County Clare sea cliffs The Cliffs of Moher.
  • Who Shot Thebarman has tried to win th
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    e Cup three times - 2016, 2015 and 2014 - for a third, an unlucky eleventh and a fifth. So not only does he have a cracking name, he loves a crack at Australia's most famous race.

  • "Marmelo" is the Poruguese word for a quince. So if you like fruit and in particular a quince maybe back (9) Marmelo.
  • If you like all things ancient Egyptian then (10) Avilius might be your horse. Avilius was also the name of Pope Avilius of Alexandria, the third pope of Alexandria.
  • Muntaha is an Arabic name for girls which means "the utmost" or "highest". (5) Muntahaa is spelt a little different, but if you consider yourself such a deity then this horse is for you.

Don't go near ...

14 Red Cardinal - little form for the last year.
20 Zacada and 19 Sir Charles Road - will be outclassed.

And that's according to The Age's racing expert Michael Lynch.