When deciding on a potential winner for the Melbourne Cup there are many factors you should consider. You might pick a horse based on its colour or amusing name, and who knows, you could win you a fortune. But to increase your chances of betting on the right horse, you really need to do your research and study the Melbourne Cup Form Guide.
There’s also breed, performance history, jockey and training to consider, but if you take the last few years into account, the horse’s homeland is another important factor at play. The Melbourne Cup has become progressively more international over recent years. Irish galloper Vintage Crop’s started the overseas persuasion with its win in 1993. It was the writing on the wall for things to come.
It is no secret that today international horses are a hot Melbourne Cup tip to take to your bookie, especially with overseas raiders showcasing a strong recent history running in the Melbourne Cup trifecta.
Here, we take a look at why betting on an international horse in the Melbourne Cup might increase your chances of winning.
Facts And Stats
The last Australian bred horse to win the Melbourne Cup was in 2009. In 2017, 11 of the 23 runners were European. Eight of these finished in the top ten. Irish trained horse, Rekindling, won ‘the race that stops a nation’ and was followed by two Irish trained horses, which came in second and third positions.
The first ever British trained horse to win in 2018, Cross Counter, took the Melbourne Cup trophy. It was one of eight European trained to take the top 12 positions.
Renowned race-horse owner Lloyd Williams has not won a Melbourne Cup trophy since New Zealand-bred horse, Efficient, won in 2007. However, Williams’ last three winners – Green Moon, Almandin and Rekindling – were European bred and trained.
As it happens, only one winner of the Melbourne Cup in the last nine years has not formerly raced in Europe.
Mick Kent, a trainer based in Cranbourne, Melbourne, believes the possibility of an Australian bred horse winning the Melbourne Cup is quickly dissolving. Kent says, ‘The Europeans look too strong, so we’ve given up and I think people will give up breeding stayers soon because they pay a penalty at the sales.’
Why The International Gallopers?
Australia’s breeding market promotes selling sprinting horses, while ‘stayers’ (better performers over longer distances) are more commonly being bred in Europe. Long-time breeder, Adam Sangster, who runs a stud in Victoria says, ‘Because we’re a nation which wants to get a quick return, sprinting ranks are really where people are breeding them’. The difficulty lies in the fact that a stayer does not attract the same return as sprinters and other horses. Sangster has had some incredibly successful stallions, including champion sprinter Highland Reel, which has fetched a fortune.
So, why does Australia not breed as many stayers as Europe? It all comes down to patience. Breeding stayers requires a lot of patience. In Europe, horses made for longer races are kept in paddocks until they are close to three-years-old. They do not race until they are aerobically equipped to take on longer distances. It is different in Australia where syndicators and trainers want to win sprinting races because that is where the money is.
Training a stayer is not a quick process. Owners in Europe tend to be richer and more willing to wait. There are not enough races in Australia that require stayers. It just doesn’t justify training expenses.
What Are The Risks?
Australia is the safest for fatal injuries when we last checked. This could be because gallopers in Australia race on turf, which is safer than the dirt horses race on in the US. Professor Chris Whitton, who leads equine orthopaedic research at the University of Melbourne, says that longer races are higher-risk as are older horses and horses of higher ability.
Horses that have died in the past five years aimed at racing in the Melbourne Cup have been brought from overseas. The tracks are softer in Britain, so perhaps Britain bred horses do not adapt as well skill-wise to the faster tracks in Australia. Professor Whitton says it is possible to adopt training techniques to help prevent injury. It is important for trainers and racing authorities to understand the effects of travel on horses.
Should You Bet On An International Horse?
It is understandable that some Australians feel disappointed at losing opportunities to win the Melbourne Cup. However, the race that stops a nation has fast become one of the most coveted prizes in global racing. And it is no secret that international gallopers have raised the quality of the Cup. So, the best horses get to run irrespective of where in the world they are trained or bred. It just so happens that the best horses to see out the arduous 3,200m of the Melbourne Cup are generally found in Europe and Japan. But Australia still leads the world in the sprint division.
While some say there is a science to picking winners in the Melbourne Cup, it is such an unpredictable race with a huge field that backing a winner is not easy. At the end of the day, the best thing you can do is your research.