In October every year, the cream of Australia’s horse racing industry comes together for the Caulfield Cup, which is the perfect curtain-raiser to the Melbourne Cup held 16 days later. The Melbourne Racing Club Group 1 Thoroughbred race occurs over 2400 metres and is open to thoroughbred horses aged three years or older.
The prize purse of $3 million makes the Caulfield Cup one of the richest thoroughbred races in Australia and allows it to claim the title of the richest 2,400-metre race in the world. The winner takes home $1.75 million and even the 10th horse to cross the line brings in $75,000.
The Cup takes place at Melbourne’s Caulfield Racecourse and this year it will occur on Saturday 21 October.
The Caulfield Cup was first run in 1879 by the Victoria Amateur Turf Club and has been held 140 times. Yes, those mathematics do not quite add up. That’s because the race was held twice when the Cup moved from Autumn to Spring in 1881, then it was held twice again in 1943 due to the large number of entries. Incidentally, it wasn’t even held at Caulfield for those races in 1943 because the Cup temporarily moved to Flemington to make room for an army base during World War II.
The most successful trainer in the history of the Caulfield Cup was Bart Cummings with seven wins, the first in 1966 with Galilee and the last with Viewed in 2009. The most successful jockey was Scobie Breasley, who rode first across the line five times, closely followed by the legendary Damien Oliver who did it four times. The title of unluckiest trainer easily goes to George Halon, who three times trained the horse that finished second by a close margin.
In 1998, the Caulfield Cup was opened to foreign horses, with the English thoroughbred Taufans Melody taking out the title. Since then, the only foreign winners have been All The Good from England in 2008 and Admire Rakti from Japan in 2014.
One of the biggest changes in the history of the Caulfield Cup could take place this year, with the Melbourne Racing Club announcing that it plans to shift the race from handicap to weight-for-age conditions. Handicap is the same conditions as the Melbourne Cup, in which each horse carries a weight based on factors such as their win record and the amount of prize money they have accrued. Weight-for-age is the system employed by the Cox Plate and means the weight attached to each horse is based on factors such as their age, sex, the race distance and the month of the year.
The prize purse will also likely be increased to $4 million. The changes are expected to attract a smaller field of elite horses, with more international entries. Melbourne Racing Club chairman Mike Symons said: “If we are going to increase international competition, we need to evolve. The distance is internationally recognised as the elite distance for good horses but almost every other jurisdiction conducts those races at weight for age.”
Caulfield Cup Field and Odds
Caulfield is a very tight-turning circuit, so the first tip for anybody seeking a winner in this year’s Cup is that on-pace runners are often favoured. An even better form guide comes from keeping a close eye on the lead-up races, particularly the Metropolitan, Spring Champion Stakes, Craven Plate, Yalumba Stakes and Cranbourne Cup.
Another significant factor to keep your eye on is the condition of the track and whether or not it suits the horse you’re looking at. For example, if the track is rated a Good 3, it would be a bad idea to put your money on a horse that has never won on a dry track. Also keep a close eye on the barrier draw, which can have an enormous influence on a horse depending on the style of running they employ.
If you’re looking for the best tip while looking for somewhere to place your money during the Caulfield Cup, it’s this: don’t accept tips from amateurs. Everybody who has ever watched a race has an opinion, but only the professionals who have spent their life studying horses can give you a genuinely worthwhile tip.
Each year automatic entry to the Caulfield Cup is granted to the winners of the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes and the Listed Mornington Cup. All the other hopeful entries in the 18-horse race have to wait for a ballot that takes into account factors such as recent wins, placings and prize money. It’s an important event that is closely watched by everybody in the racing industry, many of them with bated breath.
It’s not as important to find out which barrier a horse receives, as the winners have been spread quite evenly across the various barriers. There is one exception, though: Barrier 1 tends to be quite unlucky and only one Caulfield Cup winner has ever leapt out of it.
The final Caulfield Cup odds are released a few days before the race, but if you’re keen to make a bet before that, you can find plenty of lucrative futures odds on offer months in advance. In those bets you are not simply placing your money on which horse will cross the finish line first, you’re also staking cash on whether that horse will even be allowed to enter a starting barrier. That, of course, will depend on how well they do in all the lead-up races. It can make for a very entertaining racing season, as you will find yourself cheering the horse through each event with the same fervour as you support your football team.
Horses with short odds have had a good track record in the Caulfield Cup, with 40 favourites claiming the title in the Cup’s history. However, there have also been quite a few long-priced winners, including Taufans Melody in 1998 which came home at 66-1. But even that pales in comparison to Saint Warden in 1943, which gave its supporters 100 pounds for every pound they were willing to gamble.