The Caulfield Cup easily takes the crown as the second most prestigious horse race in Australia, coming in just below the Melbourne Cup which occurs 16 days later. The Caulfield Cup’s $3 million prize purse makes it one of the richest thoroughbred races in Australia and the world’s wealthiest 2,400-metre race. Of the 18 horses that start, the top 10 get a share of the purse, with $1.75 million going to the winner.
The Group 1 Thoroughbred race occurs in mid-October each year on the iconic turf of the Caulfield Racecourse, acting as the perfect climax to the Melbourne Racing Club’s Spring Carnival. This year the race will occur on Saturday 21 October.
For anybody following the Caulfield Cup in 2017, the big news is that the rules could be about to change. The Melbourne Racing Club is hoping to shift the race conditions from handicap to weight-for-age. Handicap is like the Melbourne Cup, in which each horse carries a weight determined by factors such as recent wins and prize money accrued. Weight-for-age is more like the conditions of the Cox Plate, in which the weight added to each horse is decided by factors such as its age and sex.
There is also talk of lifting the prize purse from $3 million to $4 million. The main purpose of the proposal is to bring more high-calibre horses to the race from overseas. “If we are going to increase international competition, we need to evolve,” Melbourne Racing Club chairman Mike Symons said.
The Caulfield Cup was opened to international competition in 1998 and in that year the first foreign horse won it, England’s Taufans Melody. International winners have also taken the title in 2008, with All The Good from England, and in 2014 with Japan’s Admire Rakti.
The first thing to understand about the Caulfield Cup, like all horse racing, is that it is not a game of chance. It is not like rolling a dice or spinning a roulette wheel. With proper study given to the multitude of factors that make a Caulfield Cup winner, it is possible to put together some credible tips that will help you pick a winner.
The second thing you need to understand is that most of the self-proclaimed horse racing experts who appear out of thin air each spring have not conducted the necessary study. If you’re genuinely trying to pick the winner you’re far better off listening to the actual professionals who dedicate their life to the sport. Even then, it’s a good idea to conduct your own research and form opinions of your own.
The best Caulfield Cup form guide can usually be found in the lead-up races, of which there are many. Especially good races to keep an eye on are the Metropolitan, Spring Champion Stakes, Craven Plate, Yalumba Stakes and Cranbourne Cup.
When race day dawns, another factor you should keep a close eye on is the state of the track. Some horses favour a wet track, while others do much better in the dry. If it’s a rainy day, you should look closely at the outstanding wet track runners and consider putting your money on them.
You should also watch the barrier draw, though because Caulfield is a tight-turning course, it is less important than other races which horse is placed in which barrier. Throughout the history of the Caulfield Cup, the winners have been quite evenly spread across the various barriers. However, there is one exception to that rule. You’d be better off to avoid barrier 1, as it has only ever produced a winner once since the first race in 1879.
Caulfield Cup Field and Odds
Only 18 horses get a chance to compete for the $3 million prize purse of the Caulfield Cup and every thoroughbred owner in Australia is desperate to become part of that field. The Caulfield Cup barrier draw is one of the biggest moments in the racing industry each year, with the ability to make or break careers.
The race is open to all thoroughbreds that are three years or over, with automatic entry going to the winners of the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes and the Listed Mornington Cup. The rest of the field is chosen through a ballot that takes into account a horse’s wins and placings in the lead-up races, as well as the prize money they have accrued. The ultimate goal of the ballot is to create a level field, making the race far more exciting because even the lesser-performed horses have a chance to cross the finish line first.
In the months before the Caulfield Cup, there are highly lucrative futures odds on offer, which means you’re also betting on whether the horse will get to jump from a barrier in the first place. The final Caulfield Cup odds are released a few days before the race.
The Caulfield Cup is a relatively good race to bet on short odds, with the favourite coming home 40 times out of the 140 races that have been held. That compares well with the Melbourne Cup, in which the favourite has won 34 times out of 153 races. Of course, on the flip side of the coin, a horse priced at 100-1 has claimed the Melbourne Cup four times, the most recent in 2015 with Prince Of Penzance, while that has only happened once in the Caulfield Cup with Saint Warden in 1943.
The Caulfield Cup has been running since 1879 and has been held 140 times because in two years – 1881 and 1943 – it occurred twice. It’s no surprise that the most successful trainer in its history was Bart Cummings, the Cups King, who claimed the title seven times. The greatest jockey was Scobie Breasley with five wins, followed closely by the legendary Damien Oliver with four.
Throughout World War II, the Cup temporarily moved to Flemington, as Caulfield was turned into an army camp. In 1885, the Caulfield Cup was the scene of Australia’s worst horse racing disaster when 15 runners fell and jockey Donald Nicholson was killed.