WHAT is it about the Melbourne Cup on that first Tuesday in November that makes it different to every other horse race throughout the year? Probably the fact that everyone from the tea lady to the taxi driver wants to tip you the winner!

Once a year even those who know nothing about gambling will roll out their proven method of winning on the Cup. Some will even boast that their successful formula has been handed down from generation to generation.

I thought it might be an opportune time to look at light-hearted and serious approaches that can help you find that elusive Cup winner on Tuesday whether you are a regular or once a year punter who wants to invest big or just have a small flutter.

Having been a victim of the punt for most of my life there is nothing that annoys me more than these parasites that prey on the needy and the greedy with their sharp-talking promises and at Spring Carnival time they are out in force.

There’s The Foolproof Guide to Winning on the Melbourne Cup. Just part with your hard-earned and they will provide an easy, proven method of picking the winner every year. How do they do it you might ask?

Believe it or not they possess ‘the latest secrets the bookmakers don’t want you to know’ and ‘will teach you the methods professional punters use to pick the Cup winner every year.’ It’s as simple as sending them a cheque and they will deliver the hot mail by the early hours on Cup morning.

Next they will have us believing that the late Bart Cummings was a subscriber to their service and that’s how he became the Cups King. Anyone who tries to tell you or sell you on a theory that there is a simple solution to picking the winner of the Melbourne Cup is full of crap.

With so many internationals now trying to poach our famous race even the expert form analysts admit how difficult finding that elusive Cup winner can be. And they are armed with every possible piece of valuable information - from race replays of Australian and overseas runners, to sectional times and the most up-to-date stable information you could hope to have. 

There are systems that have proven consistently successful over the years but certainly not infallible. One of these, which a couple of racing web-sites have in more recent times claimed as their own, has been around since the sixties and has a reasonably successful strike rate.

Here’s how the best one works (and we've added the qualifiers from Tuesday's big race):

  1. Include those Cup runners that were placed in the Caulfield Cup (BOOM TIME, SINGLE GAZE & JOHANNES VEHMEER).
  2. Include Cup runners that finished 2nd, 3rd or 4th in the Moonee Valley Cup (LIBRAN, CISMONTANE & BIG DUKE).
  3. Include Cup runners that finished in the first three at their previous Melbourne Cup run (ALMANDIN & HARTNELL) .
  4. Include the Lexus Quality winner (CISMONTANE).
  5. Exclude any horse that was unplaced at its last Melbourne Cup run (BONDI BEACH, HARTNELL, WHO SHOT THE BARMAN, WICKLOW BRAVE & GALLANTE) .
  6. Exclude any horse that is a three-year-old or seven-year-old and over (HARTNELL, ALMANDIN, MAX DYNAMITE, WICKLOW BRAVE, GALLANTE, LIBRAN, NAKEETA & THOMAS HOBSON).

Those remaining (JOHANNES VEHMEER, BIG DUKE, BOOM TIME, SINGLE GAZE & CISMONTANE) after inclusions and eliminations are the group from which most Cup winners have come over almost half a century. It could mean you have several to back but in such an open betting race as the Melbourne Cup there is always plenty of value.

Then there’s the system that claims a high success rate over the past 20 years for selecting the Cup trifecta. It suggests that you:


  1. Any horse that started on the Saturday before the Cup regardless of where it ran (CISMONTANE).
  3. Any horse that ran a place in this year’s Caulfield Cup or last year’s Melbourne Cup (BOOM TIME, SINGLE GAZE & JOHANNES VEHMEER).


  1. Any horse carrying 59kg or more.
  2. Any horse that raced in a previous Melbourne Cup and finished more than four lengths from the winner (HARTNELL, WHO SHOT THEBARMAN, BONDI BEACH, GALLANTE & WICKLOW BRAVE).
  3. Any horse that has failed to run a place in two or more starts at 3200m or beyond (BONDI BEACH, WALL OF FIRE).
  4. Any horse that has not raced in the six weeks leading up to the Cup (TIBERIAN, RED CARDINAL, MAX DYNAMITE, US ARMY RANGER, NAKEETA & REKINDLING).
  5. Any horse that is aged over seven years (ALMANDIN, MAX DYNAMITE, WICKLOW BRAVE & THOMAS HOBSON).

THOSE remaining after inclusions and exclusions are: MARMELO, JOHANNES VEHMEER, BOOM TIME & SINGLE GAZE.

If you prefer the non-scientific approach to finding the Cup winner, then you can always take your lucky number or favorite colors carried by the jockey. My late mum had wonderful success over the years just backing her lucky numbers – 4, 7, 11 & 13 – and that wasn’t only in the Melbourne Cup.

For those who are interested bay colored horses have the best Cup record. Horses with single word names have won more times than those with two or more words in their names. Blue, Black and White are the most successful colors and jockeys with Red Caps have won the Cup 27 times.

A couple of years back the Sydney Telegraph ran a story suggesting there was ‘great science to picking the Melbourne Cup winner, involving intense study from supreme minds’ but went on to add that ‘all this came undone when Mabel from the Accounts Department cheered home the winner because she likes the horse’s name.’

The writer at the time, Paul Kent, sort the views of some of Australia’s biggest punters, smartest bookies and most successful tipsters on how to select the Cup winner. Here’s a précised version of what they had to say back then:

Leading bookmaker at the time, Michael Eskander, insists the No 1 criteria for finding the Cup winner is: “Can the horse see out 3200m?

“I don't put a great deal of emphasis on the trainer, but if I look at one or two that have never trained a Melbourne Cup winner then that is different than if it is trained by Bart Cummings.”

Eskander puts a black mark against horses that have tried and failed in previous Cups. He puts great stock in track condition. A hard track will rule out many of the overseas chances. And he waits until the track condition has been declared before settling on his best bet.

Former top jockey, Wayne Harris, places special emphasis on form from the traditional lead-up races such as the Caulfield Cup – not necessarily the winners but those that finished strongly.

He also takes special notice of how horses are working, especially what the top jockeys have to say. “The jockeys have done the homework. The barrier draw doesn't make that much difference in a Melbourne Cup.”

Sean Bartholomew is one of the biggest punters that Australia has seen. He believes that if he rates form the same way to everybody else then he is never going to finish any better than them, so he does things a bit differently.

He does his own ratings, starting at zero, and subtracts points for what he perceives are negatives, such as horses that have travelled from overseas, have never been tried over the distance, or have a poor jockey, trainer or barrier.

The weighting of points has been determined through experience. He applies special points for those trained by the likes of Bart Cummings. He penalizes the internationals despite their high overseas ratings.

Bartholomew then looks at jockeys, again rating local jockeys ahead of internationals, rewarding those that have done the job before, or in other big races, with trainers given similar consideration.

Following that he looks at factors surrounding previous runs, such as whether horses were held up, and what barrier they are coming out of now. When all has been considered, his best picks will provide the best value in the race.

“It might be 50-1 and probably won't win, but I believe if I back them then over time I’ll finish in front,” Bartholomew says, which he does, more often than not.

FOR what it's worth those responsible for the LGHR LATE MAIL ratings are keen on the internationals WALL OF FIRE, REKINDLING & THOMAS HOBSON. They think the pick of the Australians is AMELIE'S STAR and that's the one I am suggesting you put your hard-earned on at long odds. 


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