Melbourne Cup Betting Tips - Tuesday 5th November 2019

Flemington Racecourse Grandstand and Melbourne Cup Entertainment
Flemington Racecourse (Stefano / Wikimedia Commons)

The first Tuesday in November means only one thing to racing fans Down Under as the eyes of the sporting world turn to Flemington racecourse and the latest edition of the Melbourne Cup. The biggest race bar none in Australia. It didn’t earn the nickname “the race that stops a nation” without good reason and the contest is also a pretty big deal on a global scale.

Whilst it may have recently been overtaken by the prestigious Everest sprint event as Australia’s richest race, this two mile event, for runners aged three years old and above, remains not just the most valuable handicap contest in Australia, but the richest event of its type run anywhere in the world.

With well over £4 million in total prize money on offer, it is no surprise that the race often has a truly international feel to it, with runners regularly making the trip from Britain, Ireland, France and Japan – often with some success.

Melbourne Cup Betting Tips For 2019

Flemington, Melbourne, Tuesday 5th November

Acting as the highlight of the Melbourne racing festival, locals are afforded a national holiday on the day of the race over in Australia. We don’t get that here, and generally need a pretty good excuse to be up at 4am on a Tuesday morning, but we do make an exception once a year for this race. Here we take a look at this year’s main contenders.

Finche – 13/2

It’s tight at the top of the market at the time of writing, but the one just about edging favouritism is Finche for Chris Waller and the home team. Hugely successful Down Under, Waller is yet to win his country’s most famous race, and will be hoping that changes in 2019 with this son of Frankel.

Formerly with Andre Fabre, the gelding tackled this race on what was only his second start for Waller last season, and ran an excellent race to beaten by only three and a half lengths into fourth place. He gets in under the same weight this time around, so wouldn’t look obviously well handicapped, but has had that bit longer to acclimatise now and warmed up for this with a solid fifth in the Caulfield Cup over a distance of 1m4f.

Mer De Glace – 7/1

Next in the market comes the Japanese raider Mer De Glace. Unbeaten in his last six starts, this one was last sighted in that aforementioned Caulfield Cup contest were he impressed just about everyone with the manner of his success. Travelling sweetly in behind, he swept around just about the whole field once asked, to score by a cosy looking length.

A repeat of that Caulfield Cup run would look to give him every chance, but he does have a couple of questions to answer regarding the trip and the going. Whereas that latest win came over 1m4f on good ground, he is up four furlongs in distance here, with the ground looking set to be riding significantly slower.

Constantinople – 15/2

Formerly with Aidan O’Brien, this son of Galileo will likely be pretty familiar to British and Irish racing fans. One of only two three year olds in this year’s line-up, he may not have hit quite the heights of some of his more illustrious stablemates at Ballydoyle, but he did still win at Group 3 level and place in Group 2 company– form which wouldn’t be a million miles off what will be required here.

Supporters will likely also draw plenty of encouragement from his first start for his new Australian trainers, which again came in that influential Caulfield Cup. One of the big eye-catchers when staying on late into fourth, he is up to this distance of two miles for the first time here, but that effort suggested it may well suit.

Vow And Declare – 10/1

Next in for the home team is Caulfield Cup runner up Vow And Declare who goes for the Craig Williams and Danny O’Brien combination. Relatively lightly raced for a four year old, this son of Declarati Of War is two pounds better off with Mer De Glace for just a one length defeat and clearly arrives here in good heart.

A Listed winner at the track at around this time last year, he ticks the course form box, and having also won over 1m7f at Group 3 level he would have fewer questions to answer than many in regard to the trip. We would expect this one to be one of the more popular each way options.

Cross Counter – 11/1

And what of last year’s winner, Cross Counter, who lines up to defend his title for Charlie Appleby and the Boys In Blue of Godolphin? A hard race to win once, history would suggest that it is even tougher second time around. Difficult, but not impossible, with Makbe Diva, Think Big, Rain Lover, Peter Pan and Archer all scoring on more than one occasion over the years.

Campaigned in top company back home in Britain and Ireland this season, he was last sighted doing all his best work late over 1m6f at the Curragh, and should enjoy this step back up in trip. He is fully 15 pounds higher in the handicap this time around, but looked value for a good bit more than the one length winning margin in the race 12 month ago.


About the Melbourne Cup & Carnival

Panorama of Central Melbourne

The most famous thoroughbred race in Australia, the Melbourne Cup is run over three thousand two hundred metres and is open to horses aged three and over. Whilst the race itself is the most important thing, having earned the nickname of ‘The race that stops a nation’, it features as part of the wider Spring Racing Carnival. The Melbourne Cup Carnival, as the meeting that hosts the race is known, also includes the Victoria Derby, the VRC Oaks and the VRC Stakes.

We won’t go into massive detail about the entire Carnival on this page, given that it would take hours for your to read an in-depth amount on every race that it features, but we will take a brief look at the important events as well as focus on the Melbourne Cup itself. It is always scheduled to take place on the first Tuesday in November, which has been a public holiday in the state of Victoria for many years precisely because of the race and the regard in which it’s held.

Let’s start in the most important place of all by looking at the Melbourne Cup in more detail.

Flemington Racecourse

Located in Melbourne in the Australian state of Victoria, the venue’s most famous race is unquestionably the Melbourne Cup. It’s a suitable location to hold such a prestigious event, however, being located next to the Maribyrnong River and having hosted racing since 1840. Based on 1.27 square kilometres of land, Victoria Turf Club began leasing the area in 1848. The Victoria Racing Club, which formed in 1864 when VTC and the Victoria Jockey Club merged, took legal control over the course in 1871 after the passing of the Victoria Racing Club Act.

Boasting a capacity crowd of more than one hundred and twenty thousand, there are three grandstands on the grounds that punters can avail themselves of. A new grandstand opened in 2000 that cost AU$45 million to build, with a new members’ stand opening in 2018. The racecourse was added to the Australian National Heritage List in 2006, which is part of the reason why it is the venue for more of the top races in the country.

Melbourne Cup History

As you might expect for a race that was first run in 1861, there is an awful lot of history surrounding the Melbourne Cup. Unlike many races that take place outside of the UK, the Melbourne Cup doesn’t find its basis in trying to repeat a British event, such as the way the Kentucky Derby is essentially America’s version of The Derby that takes place at Epsom. Instead, the origins of the race owes more to the rivalry between organisations in Australian racing at the time.

By the 1860s horse racing had become big business in Australia, with two bodies in particular dominating the sport in the Victoria region: the Victoria Turf Club and the Victoria Jockeys Club. The former had been formed in 1852 and the latter in 1857, with the pair competing to win the attention of race-going fans in the state. The Jockeys Club did so by offering people a series of races based on the English Classics, which were a big hit.

The Victoria Turf Club Comes Up with an Idea

Determined to do more to win over racing lovers, the Victoria Turf Club decided to come up with a race that would be virtually irresistible to people in the state. They decided to create a handicap race, with the hope being that the nature of the race would mean that nobody could be certain who the winner would be. That, they figured, would drive up speculation and in turn encourage more people to want to attend the event.

Seventeen horses lined up on the seventh of November 1861 to take part in the inaugural Melbourne Cup, with the prize on offer being a gold watch and cash in the form of about seven hundred gold sovereigns. Having seen a slump in attendances for VTC organised races over the previous two years, organisers were delighted to see around four thousand people arrive at Flemington Racecourse to see the race run its course. The Turf Club’s plan had worked and they were winning the battle for the attention of horse racing fans in the state.

The Story Of Archer

The favourite for the inaugural running of the Melbourne Cup was a local horse by the name of Victoria. As crowds awaited the begging of the race, one horse bolted before they could even come under starters orders. No soon had the race begun but another three participants fell virtually straight away.

In the end it wasn’t the crowd favourite Mormon who won, but a little-known horse called Archer who had been brought up to Melbourne from Sydney on a steamboat. His owner, wanting to take advantage of being in the city, entered him into the Melbourne Town Plate the following day, winning that too.

Everything about the following year’s event was bigger, including the near-double crowd and the impressive prize pot of eight hundred gold sovereigns. There were also more horses in the race, with twenty in total, yet the result was the same: Archer won. He might well have won it for a third time the following year, only for race organisers to refuse him entry because the telegraph from his owner confirming his participating arrived late, meaning that he wasn’t allowed to run.

As his owner, Etienne de Mestre, was also responsible for training a number of other horses that were due to take part in the race, they all withdrew and the race went off with the smallest field in its history. Just seven horses took part that year, with the crowd angry that the horse they’d taken to their hearts wasn’t allowed to run.

The Race Gets A Cup

The Gold sovereigns and watch were the only prizes on offer for the first few outings and, even though the race was named the Melbourne Cup, there was no actual cup on offer for the winner of the event. Before one was eventually added to the prize pool, however, something momentous was due to happen for racing in Australia. The Melbourne Cup was seen as such a success that the Victoria Turf Club and the Jockeys Club decided it was futile to battle each other for the hearts and minds of the state’s race-goers.

As a result a decision was taken in 1864 to disband both organisations and to join forces and create a new governing body for the industry in Victoria, the Victorian Racing Club. The following year a physical cup was added to the prize pool, though the first ever winner of it decided that it was so ugly that they didn’t want it so they sold it instead. A different cup was bought for the following year and now resides in the National Museum of Australia, whilst the first cup was eventually re-branded as the Flemington Hunt Club Cup.

The Race Becomes a State Holiday

By 1865 the day of the Melbourne Cup had been made into a half holiday in the city of Melbourne, meaning that public servants and those working in the local banks were given the afternoon off in order to watch the race. Local businesses soon followed suit, proving without a shadow of a doubt that the Melbourne Cup was already a hit.

The decision was taken in 1873 that the day of the race would be made into a full day’s holiday, which was announced in the Victoria Government Gazette. It was typically run on a Thursday afternoon, not being moved to November until 1875. Even then it was only really popular in the city of Melbourne, with the wider Australian public not really knowing all that much about it. In fact, it wasn’t until Briseis, a 3-year-old filly, won it in the wake of her victory in the VRC Derby that the race began to gain wider attention.

That Briseis followed up those two wins with a third victory in the VRC Oaks, all three took place in the space of six days and the horse’s jockey for all three races was a thirteen-year-old named Peter St. Albans allowed the three events to suddenly be thrust into the limelight.

The Modern Day Race

Not a huge amount changed for the Melbourne Cup in the decades that followed, although it obviously grew in popularity over the years. Yet in many ways the biggest development occurred in 1972 when the Australian government decided to move the country over to the metric system. The result was that the length of the race changed, not only in terms of the measurement unit it was referred to in but the actual physical length.

The race was a little over two miles in length prior to the switch, then moved to just under two miles long after it. Another major shift for all concerned happened in 1987 when Maree Lyndon became the first female jockey to take part in the race, which culminated in the 2015 win for Michelle Payne, who was the first female jockey to be victorious in the Melbourne Cup. It’s a sign of how the race has, even if rather slowly, been modernised over the years.

The Melbourne Cup in Detail

The Melbourne Cup is run left-handed over three thousand two hundred metres, which is about two miles. It is open to horses aged three and over and is a handicap race, so there’s no weight information to give you. Instead, the weight carried by each horse is decided by the handicapper according to their previous performances, with the idea being that the better horses carry more weight and the lesser horses less.

The minimum weight that is allocated to horses taking part in the race is fifty kilograms and there is no maximum weight. That being said, the minimum weight that is allocated to the top horse can be no less than fifty-seven kilograms. Interestingly, the race doesn’t actually obey the rules applied to ‘pure’ handicap events, instead opting for what is known as a ‘quality handicap’ formula that sees the best horses given less weight than they might otherwise receive.

Remarkably, to date only five horses have won the race more than once since it took place for the first time. They are Think Big, Rain Lover, Peter Pan, Makybe Diva and Archer. Of those, it’s Makybe Diva that lays claim to being the race’s most successful horse, winning it three times in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Things are decidedly different for the jockeys, with numerous ones winning the race on several occasions. At the time of writing, Bobby Lewis and Harry White share the honour of being the leading jockeys courtesy of their four wins apiece. Whilst a host of trainers have also won the race on multiple occasions, none can get close to the twelve wins that Bart Cummings has managed during his career.

Prize Money

The Melbourne Cup is the richest handicap horse racing event anywhere in the world. The prize pot for the 2019 running of the event was AU$8 million, broken down as follows:

  • 1st: AU$4.4 million
  • 2nd: AU$1.1 million
  • 3rd: AU$550,000
  • 4th: AU$350,000
  • 5th: AU$230,000
  • 6th - 12th: AU$160,000

Eighty-five percent of that prize money goes to the owner of the horses, with the next ten percent heading to the trainer and the remaining five percent being given to the jockey. There’s an additional AU$250,000 worth of trophies given out, whilst the owner of the winning horse can also get a bonus of AU$500,000 if they horse also won the Irish St. Leger the previous September.


Whilst the race already has certain criteria that will exclude some horses, with the minimum age being three, for example, there are other things that need to take place in order for horses to be eligible to take part in the event.

For starters, there is an initial entry fee of six hundred Aussie dollars for every horse being entered, with around four hundred horses being put forward to enter the race annually. The entry period typically lasts up until the start of August, but there are another four occasions on which owners need to confirm that they want their horse to participate in the race.

The First Acceptance phase costs nine hundred and sixty Aussie dollars, with Second Acceptance setting owners back another one thousand four hundred and fifty Aussie dollars. The Third Acceptance fee is two thousand four hundred and twenty Aussie dollars, with the Final Acceptance costing forty-five thousand three hundred and seventy-five Aussie dollars at the time of writing.

There is a safety limit of twenty-four horses on the Melbourne Cup, meaning that even after paying all of those entry fees there’s still no guarantee that a horse will be able to enter into the race. In order to get the field down to the amount that are safely allowed to enter, the organisers have ballot system in place.

The Balloting System

The system for the ballot takes into account a number of different criteria, including prize money earned over the previous two years and winning or placing in a set of nine races that are run in the buildup to the Melbourne Cup.

There are also a number of races that offer the winner an exemption for the ballot process. These races are as follows:

  • Lexus Stakes
  • Cox Plate
  • Caulfield Cup
  • The Bart Cummings
  • Andrew Ramsden Stakes
  • Doncaster Cup
  • Irish St. Leger
  • Tenno Sho (Spring)
  • Sankei Sho All Comers
  • Arlington Million
  • San Juan Capistrano Handicap
  • Australian Stayers Challenge

If at the end of the balloting period a horse does not get selected for the final field of twenty-four that will run in the race then owners get their Final Acceptance fee refunded.

Quarantine Period

Horses based in Australia and New Zealand are able to enter the race without the need to go through any sort of waiting period, but the same is not true of horses that hope to enter Australia from further afield with the intention or partaking in the Melbourne Cup.

International horses need to be kept in quarantine in premises in their own country that have been approved for fourteen days prior to travel. The Australian Government Standards are applied to all potential quarantine locations and they must meet these standards if they hope to be approved for travel.

The Werribee International Horse Centre offers enough stabling room for twenty-four horses across five stable complexes and is the venue in Victoria for international horses that need to undergo quarantine prior to the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival

In order to appreciate the race as a whole it’s important to have a look at where it fits into the rest of the Carnival. Of course, there’s also the wider matter of the Spring Racing Carnival, but that’s too all-encompassing of racing in Australia to look at too closely here. Instead we’ll focus on the meeting that features the Melbourne Cup.

Melbourne Cup Carnival Race Cards

Where else to start but with the race cards for the chief days of the Carnival? There are four days: The Victoria Derby Day, Melbourne Cup Day, The Oaks Day and The Seppelt Wines Stakes Day. Here’s a quick look at each of them:

RacePrize MoneyAges
Day One (1st Saturday) – Victoria Derby Day
Tab Stakes $300,000 2 Years Old +
Wakeful Stakes $300,000 3 Year Old + Fillies
Carbine Club Stakes $500,000 3 Years Old +
Hotham Stakes $300,000 2 Years Old +
TAB Empire Rose Stakes $1,000,000 3 Year Old + Fillies & Mares
Coomore Stud Stakes $1,500,000 3 Years Old +
Victoria Derby $2,000,000 3 Years Old
Kennedy Cantala $2,000,000 2 Years Old +
Furphy Sprint $200,000 4 Year Old + Mares
Day Two (Tuesday) – Melbourne Cup Day
Darley Ottawa Stakes $200,000 2 Year Old Fillies
Schweppervescence Plate $135,000 3 Years Old
Jim Beam Black Sakes $175,000 3 Year Old Fillies
MSS Security Sprint $175,000 2 Years Old +
Grinders Coffee Trophy $125,000 4 & 5 Year Olds
Furphy Plate $175,000 2 Years Old +
Melbourne Cup $7,750,000 2 Years Old +
BM96 Handicap $135,000 2 Years Old +
Hong Kong Jockey Club Stakes $200,000 4 Years Old +
TAB Trophy $125,000 4 Year Old + Mares
Day Three (Thursday) – Kennedy Oaks Day
Darley Maribyrnong Plate $200,000 2 Years Old
TCL TV Stakes $175,000 3 Years Old
Red Roses Stakes $300,000 3 Year Old Fillies
Kennedy Oaks $1,000,000 3 Year Old Fillies
Off The Track Subzero Handicap $125,000 2 Years Old +
Absolut Stakes $175,000 3 Years Old +
Melbourne Cup Carnival Country Final $500,000 2 Years Old +
Bumble Trophy Race $125,000 4 Years Old +
Twitter Trophy $125,000 3 & 4 Year Old Fillies & Mares
Day Four (2nd Saturday) – Seppelt Wines Stakes Day
Springtime Stakes $175,000 3 Years Old
Seppelt Drumborg Grand Handicap $150,000 3 Years Old +
Radio Trophy $125,000 4 Years Old +
Pin and Win Plate $135,000 2 Years Old +
Darley Sprint Classic $2,000,000 2 Years Old +
Chatham Stakes $200,000 2 Years Old +
Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes $2,000,000 3 Years Old +
Queen Elizabeth Stakes $300,000 2 Years Old +
TAB Matriarch Stakes $300,000 4 Years Old +

The Key Carnival Supporting Races in Detail

Melbourne Cup Day is the day that most people have been looking forward to, for the simple reason that it features the event that earned the nickname of ‘the race that stops a nation’.

Because this whole page is focussed on the Melbourne Cup and we’ve written about that in more detail above, we won’t repeat ourselves here. Equally we’re only really focusing on the Group 1 races other than Melbourne Cup.

Obviously any Group race could be described as ‘key’ if you were that way inclined, but rather than delve deep into every single race on the day we’re just going to have a quick look at the most important offerings

Coolmore Stud Stakes

The first Group 1 race on the card back in 2018 was the Coolmore Stud Stakes, which is run over one thousand two hundred metres, or six furlongs if you prefer. It’s open to three-year-olds and the weights are set at fifty-seven kilograms for colts and geldings and fifty-five kilograms for fillies.

First run in 1863 as the Ascot Vale Stakes, which is its registered name, it was for two-year-olds when it was first created and remained that way until 1965. At that point it was removed from the schedule and when it returned in 1969 it was for three-year-olds. It didn’t gain Group 1 status until 2006, which was then the VRC moved it to Victoria Derby day.

Empire Rose Stakes

Run under weight-for-age conditions, the Empire Rose Stakes is for fillies and mares aged three and over. It’s run over one thousand six hundred metres, or a mile, and was first run in 1988. Its registered name was given in honour of the mare Empire Rose, who won the LKS MacKinnon Stakes and Melbourne Cup that year.

Victoria Derby

It may not be the only Group 1 race of the day but it is the one that the day is named after, which tells you of its importance on the Australian racing calendar. It’s run over two thousand five hundred metres, which is around one mile and four and a half furlongs, and boasts a Set Weights condition. Colts and geldings are set at fifty-five and a half kilograms, whilst fillies are fifty-three and a half.

Run left-handed, the race is open to horses aged three and took place for the first time in 1855. Fireworks is the only horse to day to have won the race more than once, doing so on November 1867 and then again on New Year’s Day 1868 when its date was moved. The race’s length has changed several times, whilst it has been a Group 1 offering since 1979.

Kennedy Mile

Registered as the Cantala Stakes, the race was first run in 1881 and is a Group 1 offering for horses aged three and over that are not maidens. It’s a quality handicap race that is run over one thousand six hundred metres, which is a mile. It has had numerous names over the years because of sponsorship, with Kennedy Mile being its moniker since 2017.

Kennedy Oaks

The race’s registered name is the VRC Oaks, but it’s known as the Kennedy Oaks at the moment because it’s sponsored by the jewellery company Kennedy. The race is for three-year-old fillies and has a set weight of fifty-five and a half kilograms. It’s run over two thousand five hundred metres, which is about one mile, four and a half furlongs.

It was first run in 1861 and gradually grew to become one of the most popular days in the racing calendar. In fact, it is remarkably popular consider it is held on a week day. The day is known as Ladies Day and has become colloquially referred to as Blokes Day in modern times, the Fashions on the Field concept gains maybe as much attention of the track as the race itself does on it.

As you might expect for a race that has been taking place for so long, both its name and the length of the race have changed numerous times of the years. It gained its current distance in 1973 when Australia moved to the metric system, then became a Group 1 offering six years after that.

Seppelt Mackinnon Stakes

The Group 1 race is registered as the LKS Mackinnon Stakes and takes on a different name every time a new company sponsors it. At time of writing that is the honour of Seppelt Wines, who took over sponsorship duties in 2018. A Weight-For-Age race that is for three-year-olds and over, maiden horses are excluded from taking part in the event.

It’s run over two thousand metres, which is about one mile and two furlongs in British money. In 2019 it was worth AU$2 million in prize money, with a AU$2,500 trophy awarded on top of that. It was originally run in 1869 under the title of the Melbourne Stakes and was the predecessor of the Turnbull Stakes.

In 1937 it was re-named in honour of one of the former chairmen of the Victoria Racing Club, Lauchlan Kenneth Scobie, hence the LKS in the registered title. In 2016 the race was moved to the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, having previous been used as a warm-up race for the main event by horses that had a high enough ranking to meet that they didn’t need to enter the ballot. The thinking of the VRC was that moving it to after the Melbourne Cup would mean that better horses would enter it.

Sprint Classic

One of the younger races of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the Sprint Classic took place for the first time in 1960. It’s Group 1 race for horses aged three and over and is run under Weight-For-Age conditions. Taking place on the straight over one thousand two hundred metres, or six furlongs, the race excludes maidens.

Thought of as one of the spring calendar’s most important sprint races, it was held on Victoria Derby Day until 2005, being moved in 2006 to the final day of the Spring Carnival. The year after that was the first time in which it was run as a Weight-For-Age race.

It has enjoyed numerous different names over the years thanks to sponsorship deals with various companies. The prize money in 2019 was AU$1 million.