As with any horse race, the form is an important factor when deciding which horse to bet on in the Melbourne Cup, especially with the race attracting an international field with runners from Japan and Europe as well as Australia.
When studying the Melbourne Cup form guide punters need to look at the key Melbourne Cup Trials throughout the racing season as these will provide good pointers.
The form for the Melbourne Cup can differ from most of the big races over in Europe as there are a number of incentives for trainers to run their horses in certain races in the lead up to the Melbourne Cup itself.
The Cox Plate, for example, is a 2,040m race held in late October, just before the Melbourne Cup which is a 3,200m race. Some trainers, however, use the Cox Plate as a warm-up and to be a winner of both races is considered a fantastic achievement
Here we take a closer look at these trial prep races so you can have all the information you need in front of you before placing your Melbourne Cup bet.
Melbourne Cup Trials
Caulfield Cup – The Caulfield Cup will be raced on the 19th of October and has long since been associated as a trial for the Melbourne Cup three weeks later. Last year’s Melbourne Cup winner Viewed used this race as preparation finishing 10th.
Cox Plate – The Cox Plate is a 10 Furlong race held at the Moonee Valley Racecourse and is considered to be the ‘weight for age’ championship of Australasia. The 2013 Cox Plate will take place on the 26th of October, just eleven days before the Melbourne Cup. Only six runners have ever achieved the Cox Plate/Melbourne Cup double.
Mackinnon Stakes – The Mackinnon Stakes is raced the Saturday before the Melbourne Gold Cup at Flemington Racecourse. The race is widely regarded as an important lead up to the Melbourne Cup which takes place the following Tuesday. This year the 2016 Mackinnon Stakes will be raced after the Melbourne Cup on the 2nd November. There are usually a handful of Melbourne Cup European raiders who are brought over by their trainers to race, but on the whole, have a poor record. The prize money alone is enough motivation for some Melbourne Cup trainers and the likes of Aiden O’Brien, Dermot Weld and Luca Cumani have sent across Melbourne Cup runners in recent years.
There are no real Melbourne Cup trials to speak of in the UK and Ireland but horses who excel at two miles will be the most likely to travel. Despite the Doncaster Cup and the Irish St Leger not being actual Melbourne Cup trials so to speak, they are two out of a dozen races that the Melbourne Cup race directors have made the winner of exempt from any ballot in the race itself.
Other races outside of Australia that are exempt include the Tenno Sho and Sankei Sho All Comers from Japan, and the Arlington Million and San Juan Capistrano Handicap from the USA.