One of Australia’s iconic, and richest, horse races, the Caulfield Cup, is held in the middle of October at the racecourse bearing its name. Taking place on the third and last day of the MRC Spring Carnival, it has been a major Australian sporting event for almost one hundred and forty years. It’s the richest race of its type anywhere in the world, with prize money of $3m; the first winner was Newminster, and the latest, in 2016, Jameka. Poseidon in 1906 was the first to complete the double by also winning the Melbourne Cup, but none have achieved this since Ethereal at the start of the new millennium.
It is designated as an MRC Group 1 Thoroughbred race, which is presently run under handicap conditions, although The Melbourne Racing Club is looking to turn it into a weight-for-age conditions race. The Caulfield Cup field is limited to just 18 starters, and it’s open to horses aged three and above, and they compete over a distance of 2400 metres. Under handicap conditions, all horses taking part are allocated a specific weight to carry. This is determined by a range of factors, including recent wins by that horse and the prize money it has accumulated. Performances in this race are one of the possible qualification methods to run in the legendary Melbourne Cup, one of the world’s most famous horse races, which is held just 16 days after the Caulfield Cup.
Some key reasons for experts’ choices
If you consult a Caulfield Cup form guide, and when experts tip horses to do well in the Caulfield Cup, they usually base this on factors such as a horse’s performance in the lead-up races. Of course, as a nation of punters, we might carefully examine the Caulfield Cup odds, but we also often have our own reasons for backing any particular mount for the race!
However, another important condition can be the state of the track on the day of the race – and we know that Melbourne’s climate can be extremely fickle. Certain horses will likely perform better on one type of track than another. So, should the track be rated a Good 3, then an entrant who has no record of success on such a dry track, would be unlikely to be tipped heavily by those pre-race experts.
The barrier draw is also another factor weighing heavily on the minds of those offering Caulfield Cup tips. This can have a large influence on how a horse is expected to perform, when its particular running style is also factored into the equation.
During the Second World War, the race was run at Flemington. Around that period, Aussie test cricketer Clem Hill settled the race weights as he was the handicapper for the Victoria Amateur Turf Club. The legendary jockey, Scobie Breasley, won four in a row during the war years; and Bart Cummings is the record winning trainer with seven successes.
Just a few points about a race with a great history, surely a terrific future, and certainly offering a great chance, whether you are a regular or occasional gambler, to study the runners, riders and form – and then enjoy a punt this year!
Caulfield Cup Field and Odds
For its running on the third and last day of the MRC Spring Carnival, the Caulfield Cup field is strictly limited to 18 starters. Entrants need to be three years or older (that’s a stipulation for the horses, not the jockeys). There are also 4 emergency entries, and all of this is decided through the use of a ballot system. Automatic entry is awarded to the winner of both the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes and the Listed Mornington Cup. Other consideration factors for eligibility for the ballot will be placings gained in lead up races, plus the race victories and prize money any horse has gained.
If you wonder why such a system is employed, the aim is to provide a more level field, and to give some of the lesser performed horses a chance to triumph in this most famous of races.
The connections of any competing horse can often be identified by their anxious expressions as they wait for the vital barrier draw to take place. Legend has it that the outcome can make or break both racing, and punting, careers. It’s generally accepted that there is no ‘golden barrier’ to hope for, although Barrier 1 has not produced a winner during the last three decades. So, there is no wish to be drawn on the rails! In fact, the winning horses have been spread across most of the remaining barriers during the Caulfield Cup’s rich history.
The final odds for the race will not be released until a few days before it takes place. However, lucrative futures odds are regularly offered several months in advance of the mid-October running. The odds themselves are updated for every new round of releases of either nominations or acceptances. These odds will be based on both the chance the individual horse has of eventually making it into the Caulfield Cup field, as well as how it is likely to then fare in the race itself.
There are also other guidelines that can claim many a punter’s attention. These include how any horse has performed in the key lead-up races. These include The Metropolitan, Craven Plate, Yalumba Stakes, Spring Champion Stakes and the Cranbourne Cup.
Of course, many Australians will have their own reasons for the mount they back. For some it will be one of their few betting forays each year, for others a key part of a passionate hobby. As you study the horses, see who is riding each, know about the trainer’s record, assess the odds – or simply take a punt based on your legendary gut feeling – you’ll be part of one of our country’s great sporting occasions – as it has been for almost a century and an half. So, here’s to the wonderful Caulfield Cup!