It’s the first Tuesday in November and that means it’s Melbourne Cup day.
It’s billed as a race that stops a nation but it has a big impact on this side of the Tasman too.
First run in 1861, the tradition of the Cup is still going strong.
As you mull over your one in 24 chance of winning the office sweepstake, check out the answers to all of your critical questions for Tuesday’s big race.
* Melbourne Cup: Auckland’s Ellerslie Racecourse set to host bumper crowd as Flemington sits empty
* Former AFL title-winning coach trains Kiwi-bred horse to win Victoria Derby
* Melbourne Cup: Covid-19 robs The Chosen One’s cheer squad of a chance to watch him in the flesh at Flemington
* Melbourne Cup: Mixed fortunes for champion trainer Aidan O’Brien as favourite draws horror barrier
What time does it start?
The Melbourne Cup jumps at 5pm (New Zealand time) but it inevitably runs a couple of minutes late.
How many New Zealand-trained runners are in the Cup?
One: The Cambridge-based training partnership of Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman have The Chosen One, who ran 17th in the big race last year, back in the field. Sired by former Cox Plate winner Savabeel and bred by the Dennis brothers in Southland, The Chosen One ran third in his most recent start – the Caulfield Cup – behind the New Zealand bred Verry Elleegant.
Southland racehorse owners the Dennis brothers are hoping for the best with The Chosen One in Saturday’s Caulfield Cup.
Can the New Zealand trained horse win?
He was luckless from a wide draw last year and again the Australian bookies have The Chosen One as an outsider at $51 to $1 for the win. This year, the five-year-old has a much better draw, starting from barrier five. His owners are confident he is going better than last year and his Caulfield Cup run proves that and he’ll run out the 3200m trip no problems. The New Zealand TAB has The Chosen One at odds of $31 for the win and $8.50 for the place. He’s up against it, but he’s far from the worst chance in the race and much stranger things have happened in the Melbourne Cup. If he’s your sweepstake hope, get parochial and hope for some luck in the running.
Where is the crowd?
Due to Melbourne’s strict protocols amid the global Covid-19 pandemic, the Victoria Racing Club announced just over a week ago it “will not be possible to welcome spectators”. Despite some restrictions easing after four months of hard lockdown, they have not arrived in time for the Melbourne Cup.
Who are the favourites?
Top weight Anthony Van Dyck is favourite with the New Zealand TAB at $7 to $1 for the win. Just behind are Tiger Moth and Cox Plate winner Sir Dragonet who will both pay $7.50 for a Melbourne Cup victory.
Will the favourite win?
It’s rare for the favourite to win the Melbourne Cup. Fiorente was the last favourite to win and that was back in 2013. He was the first favourite to win since Makybe Diva won the third of her Cups in 2005. In summary, there are never any guarantees in the Melbourne Cup so your guess is as good as ours.
Are there any Kiwi jockeys in the race?
Yes. There are four Kiwis in the race but all have been based in Australia for several years. Daniel Stackhouse (The Chosen One, No 17 ), James McDonald (Finche, No 11), Michael Walker (Dashing Willoughby, No 10) and Michael Dee (Persan, No 24).
Are there any other Kiwi connections?
Yes. Ex-pat trainer Chris Waller will have two horses in the race in Verry Elleegant and Finche.
If Melody Belle is New Zealand’s best horse, why isn’t she racing?
Two-time New Zealand horse of the year Melody Belle recently won over 2040 metres in the Group I Livamol Classic at Hawke’s Bay but running over the 3200m trip is not her go. However, the champion of Kiwi racing is likely to race at Flemington in the Mackinnon Stakes (2000m) on November 7.
What will the weather do?
Fine with some chance of cloud cover and a high of 28.
Is last year’s winner Vow And Declare running?
Yes. He’ll jump from barrier four for Australian trainer Danny O’Brien. Last year’s winning jockey Craig Williams has jumped ship and will ride the New Zealand bred Surprise Baby for Australian trainer Paul Preusker. Jamie Mott will ride Vow and Declare who this time carries 57kg, that’s 5kg more than last year and his lead up form hasn’t been strong in 2020.
How long is the race?
The Melbourne Cup is contested over 3200 metres (two miles). The 24 runners will run down the Flemington straight and will have a lap to run when they reach the winning post.
How long will it take?
The Cup should be run and won in around three minutes and 20 seconds.
How many horses are in the race?
Twenty four runners will start the race.
How much does the winner get?
A$4.4 million (NZ$4.68m)
How much prizemoney is on offer all up?
A$7.75 million (NZ$8.24m)
When was the last time a Kiwi trainer won the Cup?
Graeme Rogerson back in 2007 with Efficient.
Who was the last Kiwi jockey to win the race?
How many horses in the race were bred in New Zealand?
Six: Verry Elleegant (No 7), Surprise Baby (No 13), The Chosen One (No 17), Etah James (No 20) Oceanex (No 22) and Miami Bound (No 23).
How many New Zealand horses have won the race?
New Zealand-bred horses have won 43, of which 16 were also New Zealand-trained.
When was the last time a New Zealand bred-horse won?
Prince of Penzance in 2015. It was a historic moment when Michelle Payne became the first female to win the race. Payne has strong connections to New Zealand through her father Paddy and her late mother, Mary, who moved to Ballarat from Hawera before she was born.