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7 things you didn't know about the Melbourne Cup

Australian horse racing fans are counting down the days until the 2020 Melbourne Cup gets underway at Flemington Racecourse. It is the biggest betting event of the year and it also heralds a public holiday in Victoria, making it an eagerly anticipated race. It attracts some of the world's most talented stayers to Melbourne, where they slog it out over 3200m in a bid to earn fame and fortune. Around 650 million around the world watch the action unfold, but there are some key facts that you may not know about this famous race:

1. Just 35 Favourites Have Won the Melbourne Cup. It is tempting to bet on the favourite to win a big race like the Melbourne Cup, as that status is reserved for a horse that appears to be in formidable form. However, it rarely pays to back the bookmakers' favourite in the race that stops a nation. Just 35 favourites in 159 years since the Melbourne Cup began, and only six favourites have saluted since 1983. Let's Elope pulled it off in 1991, and Might and Power triumphed six years later. Jezabeel repeated the feat in 1998. Makybe Diva then went off as the favourite in 2005 and in 2006, when she seized a record-breaking hat-trick of Cup wins, but 2013 winner Fiorente is the only favourite to triumph since then. Last year's winner, Vow and Declare, went off at $10.

2. A Mare Has Not Won the Melbourne Cup Since 2005. Makybe Diva delighted punters when she clinched her third consecutive Melbourne Cup victory back in 2005. However, a mare has not won the famous race ever since and we are now living through a period of total male dominance. Makybe Diva is one of just five mares to win the race since 1965, along with Empire Rose in 1988, Let's Elope in 1991, Jezabeel in 1998 and Ethereal in 2001. Only two female stayers entered the race in 2019. Just one seven-year-old, Almandin, has won the Melbourne Cup since Makybe Diva's third victory, so you might want to look for a male stayer aged four to six when picking a winner from the Melbourne Cup odds at Punters.com.au.

3. Four 100/1 Roughies Have Won the Melbourne Cup. The Pearl became the first long shot to defy odds of 100/1 to win the Melbourne Cup in 1871. Wotan followed suit in 1936, and Old Rowley became the third 100/1 winner in 1940. It seemed as though we would never see a runner triumph at such long odds in the modern era, but then Prince of Penzance hit headlines around the world with a famous win in 2015. Like The Pearl, Wotan and Old Rowley before him, Prince of Penzance was in poor form and appeared to be simply making up the numbers. Yet Michelle Payne delivered a perfect ride to guide the roughie to a narrow victory over Max Dynamite. She became the first female jockey to win the race that stops a nation, and used her post-race interview to absolutely savage anybody that thinks women are not good enough to thrive as elite riders. Those naysayers "can get stuffed", said Payne.

4. The Largest Melbourne Cup Attendance was 122,737 in 2003. A crowd of just 4,000 gathered to watch Archer win the inaugural Melbourne Cup in 1861. The city was in mourning at the time, following the deaths of explorers Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Willis, who were attempting an expedition into the heart of Australia, and that caused some people to stay away. The attendance figure swelled to 7,000 the following year, and it continued to grow until it reached a peak of 122,736 inside Flemington Racecourse in 2003. It dipped to 98,161 in 2004, but Flemington welcomed more than 100,000 spectators for 11 years in a row between 2005 and 2015. Since then it has started to dwindle again, and the 2019 renewal attracted a crowd of just 81,408, the lowest since 1995. That followed protests among animal rights groups, who branded racing cruel and barbaric. It is not yet known if punters will be able to attend the race in 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

5. Kingston Rule Set the Record Melbourne Cup Winning Time in 1990. Classy stayer Kingston Rule soared around the famous course in just 3 minutes and 16.3 seconds in 1990. That shattered the previous record, and it still stands to this day as the fastest finishing time in Melbourne Cup history. Media Puzzle came the closest to beating it when he won in 3 minutes and 16.97 seconds back in 2002, but the only runners to break the 3:20 barrier since then are Makybe Diva and Protectionist, who finished in 3:17.71 in 2014. Last year's champion, Vow and Declare, posted a winning time of 3:24.76, the slowest since Americain in 2010.

6. Barrier 18 Has Never Produced a Melbourne Cup Winner. Barriers were introduced to the Melbourne Cup in 1924, and punters have been fascinated by barrier stats ever since. The most successful is Barrier 5, which has yielded eight winners over the years, including 2013 champion Fiorente. Barriers 11, 10 and 14 have also been successful. The outlier is Barrier 18, which has not produced a single winner since 1924, causing many punters to avoid the horse that runs from it, regardless of the form it is in.

7. The Average Australian Spends $179 on Melbourne Cup Day. The average Australian apparently spends $88 on bets and another $81 on entertainment, fashion and dining to mark the day, resulting in a total of $179. That is according to a study from B&T, which surveyed 1,000 people about their spending habits. More than 10% of Australians will exceed $300 in spending on Melbourne Cup Day, while men generally spent $70 more than women. A total of 41% of the people surveyed said the Melbourne Cup is the only sporting event they bet on all year, with each-way, the place and the win being the most popular wagers.

 


 

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