Big Day In Australia: The Melbourne Cup Carnival

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The Melbourne Cup is one of the the ultimate tests of endurance and speed. It also happens to be one of the world’s most coveted titles among the best equine stayers on the planet. With a rich history that’s built into the Aussie culture, the Melbourne Cup has been affectionately referred to as the “race that stops a nation.” The racing date has become so popular on the Aussie calendar that the government in Victoria passed legislation, declaring Melbourne Cup day to be a legal holiday in Melbourne and selected parts of the Victoria province. Everyone down under finds time to do some Melbourne Cup betting.

The Race

With a history that spans more than 150 years, the Melbourne Cup has become the ruler that equine greatness is measured by in Australia. The race has been won by such greats as Phar Lap, Think Big, Kingston Rule and the brilliant mare Makybe Diva. This year’s Melbourne Cup is scheduled to be run at Flemington Racecourse on its traditional place on the calendar, which is the first Tuesday of November (November 1). The race is run at 3200 meters (2 miles) on turf for 3-year olds and over for a record grass race prize of AUS$6,200,000. Weights are assigned based on handicap conditions.

Handicapping the Race

Aside from the unusual distance of the race, handicappers (people who calculate which horse will win) are required to factor in a large field of 20 horses into their analysis. They also face the challenge of trying to decipher the current form of horses from all over the world. The biggest challenge is trying to identify horses that can get the distance. As a good rule of thumb, the best 2400-meter horse in the race is most likely going to be the best 3200-meter horse in the race.  Finally, it takes special preparations to get a horse ready to go 3200 meters against the highest level of competition. With that in mind, special attention should be paid to each horse’s connections with an absolute focus on the world’s top trainers and jockeys. When all else fails, a few Melbourne Cup tips may be in order.

The Contenders

After a number of defections, the list of 124 early nominees has been pared down to what is starting to shape up as a wide-open event. It also looks like as much as half of the field might be occupied by horses from other parts of the world. Here’s a list of a few top contenders.

Order of St. George – This Aidan O’Brien trainee ranks as one of the top stayers in the world based on his victories in the Irish St. Leger (twice) and the Ascot Gold Cup at 4800 meters. After losing to Wicklow Brave this September while trying for his third straight St. Leger, some trainers and handicappers perceive there is a kink in his armor. Maybe, maybe not.

Wicklow Brave – If you want to be the man, you have to beat the man. That’s exactly what this 7-year old gelding did at the Curraugh in September when he took St. Leger defending champ Order of St George to task.

Hartnell – After winning last week’s Group 1 Turnbell Stakes, Hartnell establish himself as Australia’s best chance to keep the Cup at home. It was his third victory of the young racing season. With a run in the WS Cox Plate currently on this horse’s schedule, he should be dead fit for the Melbourne Cup.

Before lining up to do some Melbourne Cup betting, handicappers need to gather all the information they can find and really go to work. Finding the best Melbourne Cup tips can be useful, but there is substitute for some old-fashioned handicapping and saying a prayer or two to the horse racing Gods.

John Hawthorne

John Hawthorne

John Hawthorne is a Sports Journalist and an ardent football fan. John is a columnist with several football sites and urges you to check out his work at

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