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Melbourne Cup Betting Offers 2024

melbourne cup 1860 stampYou could count on one hand the few prestigious races known all over the world and the Melbourne Cup would certainly be on that list.  Established in 1860 it is now the richest handicap race in the world with $8.41M Australian Dollars, or £4.4M in prize money. Restricted to a field of 24 there are prizes for the first 12 horses and $4.4M (£2.45M) for the winner alone.

The MC is a truly international race these days, and a must win race for leading trainers and jockeys. In 2018 Cross Counter became the first British trained horse to win the famous race, and after years of frustration (and 8 second place finishes) the Brits ended up dominating Australia’s biggest race with a 1-2-3 finish.  Whatever the result this year what you can know is excitement is guaranteed with 24 world class horses running over 2 miles for this amount of money.

In the UK the just under 2 mile race (3200 meters) gets under way on Tuesday November 5th at 4am (3pm Melbourne Time).  If you want to watch the race in the early hours or you want to place a bet in advance then this is the page to look at.  Here we show you the betting promotions from leading licensed betting sites that could add value to your Melbourne Cup wagers.

Melbourne Cup Betting Offers for 2024

This event has not started yet, please check back nearer the time. For other offers see our main loyalty page.

Melbourne Cup Day Race Card and Schedule 2024

melbourne cup winning horseAs racing fans, the British are decidedly spoilt. Along with the behemoths of the industry such as the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, we also get to delight in countless other thrilling races throughout the year. What’s more, the nature of the world of racing means that the big-hitters barely take a break and when the jump racing season is over then the flat racing one gets underway, with epic meetings such as Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby. It’s little wonder, therefore, that punters in the UK don’t pay a huge amount of attention to horse racing that takes place on foreign shores; most of the time.

If you’ve heard of a race that is run in another country then it’s a reasonably safe bet that it’s worthy of your attention. The Kentucky Derby in the US state that it’s named after springs to mind as just an example. Even then, America is very much in our consciousness because of films and TV shows, so it really does tell you something about the Melbourne Cup that British audiences enjoy it almost as much as their own races, given that it takes place on the other side of the planet. Here we’ll tell you more of what you want to know about its history and traditions.

The Melbourne Cup is just one race at Flemington on Melboune Cup Day, in fact, there are no less than ten races to be enjoyed from the meeting.  These are big races too, with prize money in the €135-200,000 region for the other 9 races, along with over $8,000,000 (£4,300,000) for the Melbourne Cup itself.

melbourne cup welcome to flemington sign

The day is, in fact, part of a festival known as the Melbourne Cup Carnival.  This is a four day event running from Saturday to Saturday.  Usually we would tell you about all of the individual days but in this instance all anyone is really interested in is the big and famous main day.  The MC is one of those events that people like to tick off their bucket lists to attend (if you can afford it) and a truly global event.

A lot of UK runners are involved in the main race, along other entrants from around the world.  The first prize is a staggering $4,400,000, or £2,460,000.  Below you can see the race card with race times, grades, distance and prize purse information.

Melbourne Cup Day – Tuesday 7th November

Time (UK) Race Grade Distance
23:45 Maribyrnong Plate Group 3 4f 214y (1000 mt)
00:20 (7th Nov) The Macca’s Run Handicap 1m, 5f, 200y (2800 mt)
01:00 Resimax Group Subzero Handicap Handicap 6f, 211y (1400 mt)
01:40 TAB Trophy Stakes Listed Race 1m 209y (1800 mt)
02:20 Schweppervescence Plate Handicap 4f 214y (1000 mt)
02:55 Furphy Plate Listed 1m 209y (1800 mt)
4:00 Melbourne Cup Group 1 1m, 7f, 200y (3200 mt)
4:50 In Memory of Queen Elizabeth II Handicap 6f, 211y (1400 mt)
5:40 Hong Kong Club Jockey Stakes Group 3 6f, 211y (1400 mt)
6:15 MSS Security Sprint Listed Race 5f, 212y (1200 mt)

KEY: m – Miles, f – furlong(s), y – yards, mt (meters)

Melbourne Cup Qualifying

melbourne cup runners on the final straight

The Melbourne Cup is open to horses aged three and over that have paid the initial entry fee of six hundred Australian Dollars. Around four hundred horses are nominated to take part every year, but the final field is limited to twenty-four and so a manner of reducing the field is necessary.

One of the ways in which that is achieved is that owners must confirm that they want their horse to participate in the race on four different occasions ahead of its November running, paying a fee each time. In 2022, the fees were as follows:

  • First Acceptance – $960
  • Second Acceptance – $1,450
  • Third Acceptance – $2,420
  • Final Acceptance – $45,375

The final decision on whether or not a horse will be allowed to enter the race falls to the race directors, with a final ballot taking place ahead of the event itself. As well as whether or not they’ve paid the fees, whether or not a horse will be in the ballot will depend on the amount of prize money they’ve earned over the past couple of years, how many wins and placings they’ve achieved in the build-up to the race and the weight handicap being allocated. There are also a number of races that the winners of will be exempt from the ballot, including the Cox Plate, the Doncaster Cup and the Irish St. Leger.

One thing worth bearing in mind when it comes to any selection made for betting purposes is that horses from outside of Australia and New Zealand are required to spend a period of fourteen days in quarantine in their own country before travelling to the antipodes. Once in Australia international horses can be kept at the Werribee International Horse Centre, which is located at the Weribee racecourse in Victoria.

In 2021 new rules were brought in to reduce deaths.  International runners will now undergo precautionary veterinary inspections the day before the race including a CT scan on the lower limbs, this follows several fatal leg injuries to international horses in the years preceding.  Any horse that has suffered a previous fracture or undergone orthopaedic surgery will not be allowed to run also.  There will be an overall cap of 24 entries for overseas runners, down from 42, and international horses can only partake in one other race in Australia in the week leading up to the Melbourne Cup.

Melbourne Cup Format – Richest Handicap In The World

melbourne cup trophy

The Melbourne Cup is a Group 1 handicap race that lacks a maximum weight but with the maximum allocated weight being no less than fifty-seven kilograms. The weight is declared by the Victoria Racing Club’s Handicapper in September, with older horses carrying more than younger ones.

The race differs from a more conventional one that follows ‘pure handicap’ rules, with weights adjusted for the purposes of offering what is known as a ‘quality handicap’ in order to make the race more exciting.

Run left-handed on a turf course, it lasts for three thousand two hundred meters for horses aged three and over. It is the richest handicap race in the world.  There are no upper age restrictions, sex restrictions or class restrictions for the field of 24 horses.

Prize Money

It’s far to say that the prize money for the winner of the Melbourne Cup has increased a tad from the gold watch and seven hundred gold sovereigns on offer in 1861. Indeed, in 2023 the overall pot amounted to more than A$8.41 million or £4.4 million (roughly depending on exchange rates).

Prize money is paid out to the no less than half of the entire field, no less than the first 12 horses to make it across the finish line, with the following being the amount paid when the race took place in 2023:

  • 1st: $4,400,000
  • 2nd: $1,100,00
  • 3rd: $550,000
  • 4th: $350,000
  • 5th: $230,000
  • 6th – 12th: $160,000

If the winning owner was also responsible for the winner of the Irish St. Leger the previous September then they will receive a bonus of $500,000. In terms of winnings, it breaks down as 85% going to the owner, 10% to the trainer and 5% to the winning jockey.

About Flemington Racecourse

melbourne cup flemington racecourse from above

The Melbourne Cup takes place at Flemington Racecourse in the city that the race is named after. Racing began in the area in 1840 and proved popular enough for the Victoria Turf Club to lease land in order to create the course four years later.

The races that take place on the course are run in an anti-clockwise direction and the actual racecourse has a shape that is reminiscent of a pear. There is a six furlong straight and a circumference of just shy of one and a half miles. There are three grandstands located on the course, which offers a capacity of more than one hundred and twenty thousand.

One of the grandstands was given a makeover at the turn of the millennium to the tune of more than forty-five million Australian Dollars. That partially contributed to the racecourse being added to the Australian National Heritage List in 2006, with the fact that it’s also the venue for some of Australia’s biggest races also helping. As well as the Melbourne Cup, Flemington Racecourse is also where you can watch the Victoria Derby, the Australia Cup and the Lightning Stakes, to fame but a few.

The racecourse is served by its own railway line, which opens on race days and transports people to the dedicated station near to the entrance. There’s a taxi rank close by as well as spaces for disabled drivers, with shuttle buses running for normal drivers.

History of The Melbourne Cup

melbourne cup 1860 stamp dark edgeLook at many races throughout the world and you’ll notice that they often have a basis in an English alternative. The aforementioned Kentucky Derby, for example, was created after an American visitor to the UK watched the Derby at Epsom and decided that his own country could do with a version for three-year-old thoroughbreds. The interesting thing about the Melbourne Cup, therefore, is that its invention has more to do with rivalry than a desire to repeat something already being done elsewhere.

In the 1860s, horse racing in the Australian state of Victoria was dominated by two different organising committees; the Victorian Turf Club, which had been formed in 1852, and the Victorian Jockeys Club, created five years later. The Jockeys Club had, much like Colonel Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr. in Kentucky, used English races as the inspiration behind events like the 2,000 Guineas in order to please horse racing fans. They were a success, meaning that the Turf Club needed to do something in order to steal the public’s interest and ensure a decent turn out for their events.

The idea that they came up with was a handicap race that would introduce a level of speculation about the possible winner that would bring in more entries and, in turn, create a larger prize pot. It took place for the first time on the 7th of November in 1861 and saw seventeen horses enter to try and win the prize. Ironically, considering the name, there actually wasn’t a cup up for grabs for the first few years. Instead there was a gold watch and more than seven hundred gold sovereigns in cash. More than four thousand people turned up to watch the field at Flemington Racecourse, which was the largest crowd for two years for a race organised by the Victorian Turf Club.

melbourne cup horses leaving the traps

The crowd was treated not only to the inaugural running of Australia’s newest race but also something of an entertaining few hours. One of the horses bolted before the race could even get underway, whilst three more fell after the start. The favourite was a horse from Victoria called Mormon, but it was actually a horse from Sydney called Archer that crossed the line first, beating it by six lengths. Having arrived in Melbourne on a steamboat, the owners of Archer decided to make the most of his time in the city and he also raced in a two mile long race called the Melbourne Town Plate the following day, winning that too.

The story of the early years of the race can be told using Archer, who returned to Melbourne on a steamboat the following year in order to compete in its second running. The crowd hard nearly doubled in size, whilst the prize pot had increased to more than eight hundred gold sovereigns. Archer went up against a field of nineteen other horses to defend his Melbourne Cup crown, with the Victorian favourite of Mormon once more coming in as his runner-up.

It is the third year of the event that is arguably the most interesting, however, as it ran with a field of just seven horses. That was because Archer had once again travelled up from Sydney but the telegraph of his trainer, Etienne de Mestre, arrived later and he was refused entry. Many of the other owners who had horses trained by de Mestre withdrew their own charges from the race in protest, resulting in the smallest field in the race’s history and denying Archer the chance to win the cup for the third time.

The Victorian Racing Club And The First Cup

melbourne cup original 1867 trophyHaving proven that the Melbourne Cup was a success, the Victorian Turf Club and the Victorian Jockeys Club decided to put their differences aside for the good of racing in the state. As a result, the two committees disbanded in 1864 and merged their operations together into the form of the Victorian Racing Club. The organisation has controlled both racing in the state of Victoria and the Melbourne Cup ever since, indicating that it is the event itself rather than the organising body behind it that maintains people’s interest.

Despite being known as the Melbourne Cup since it was first run in 1861, it wasn’t actually until 1865 that an actual cup was created for the winner to take home. Perhaps somewhat ironically, the winner of the 1865 race thought that the trophy itself was ‘unattractive’ and sold it!

It was later re-branded as the Flemington Hunt Club Cup. As a result, the first ‘Melbourne Cup’ still in existence is the one presented in 1866, which was bought by the National Museum of Australia in 2012 and can be viewed when visiting the museum itself.

The Development Of The Race

Melbourne cup horses running with skyline as the back drop

It’s fair to say that the Melbourne Cup was a success within its fair few years. If you’re after proof of this then you can look to the fact that ‘Cup Day’ was a half-holiday in the city as early as 1865, with pubic servants and bank officials, as well as many local businesses, drawing their shutters at lunchtime before the main event. By 1873 this was extended to a full day’s holiday and was official acknowledge in the Victoria Government Gazette. Whilst the race is known nowadays as being run on the first Tuesday of November, that wasn’t the case initially. In fact, in the earlier years the race take place on a Thursday and it wasn’t until 1875 that it was shifted to November.

Whilst the race was popular in the Melbourne area within the first couple of years, it still didn’t gain much wider recognition during its more formative phase. It first truly began to grasp the public’s imagination when a three-year-old filly named Briseis won it with a time of just over three and a half minutes, before also going on to win the VRC Oaks, having already won the VRC Derby, all in the space of six days. That the horse was ridden by a jockey named Peter St. Albans who was not yet thirteen also added to the romance of the story.

The race has undergone numerous changes in its history, though perhaps the most significant was the change in length from just over two miles when it first raced to just under the same distance when Australia moved to the metric system in 1972. Believe it or not, it took another fifteen years for a female jockey to take part in the race when Maree Lyndon did so on Argonaut Style in 1987. The race’s popularity has also changed, growing from a crowd of around four thousand during its inaugural running to to in excess of one hundred thousand in 2005.

Melboune Cup Statistics

Statistic Number Name/Year
Most Wins (Horse) 3 Maybe Diva (2003 – 2005 consecutive)
Most Wins (Jockey) 4 Booby Lewis, Harry White
Most Wins (Trainer) 12 Bart Cummings
Most Wins (Owner) 7 Lloyd Williams
Fastest Time 3:16 Kingston Rule (1990)
Biggest Margin Win 8 Lengths Archer (1862), Rain Lover (1968)
Highest Odds Winner 100/1 1871, 1936, 1940, 2015
Lowest Odds Winner 8/11 1930
% Favourites Won 23% 34 out of 150
Biggest Fields 39 1890
Smallest Field 7 1863
Oldest Winner 8 Years Torboy (1865), Catalogue (1938), Twilight Payment (2020)
Highest / Lowest Attendance 122,736 / 0 2003 / 2020 (closed doors due to corona virus)
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