The Caulfield Cup is one of the most prestigious horse races in Australia. It may not stop the nation like the Melbourne Cup does, but that’s largely because the Caulfield Cup takes places on a Saturday afternoon and huge swathes of the population are already glued to a television screen as they wait to cheer their horse towards the finish line. It is a major part of the Spring Carnival that is hosted each year by the Melbourne Racing Club. With a prize on offer of $3 million, it is the richest 2,400-metre race in the world and one of the richest thoroughbred races in Australia. This year it will take place on Saturday 21 October.
The colourful history of the Caulfield Cup stretches all the way back to 1879, when it was first run by the Victoria Amateur Turf Club. It originally took place in autumn but within two years they decided to shift it to spring, pairing it with the Melbourne Cup and helping it grow to the enormous stature it holds today. However, the race does not have a consistent timespan at Caulfield because that track was used by the army during World War II and the Cup was temporarily moved to Flemington.
The history of the Caulfield Cup has not been entirely positive. In 1885 it was the scene of the worst racing disaster in Australian history, when 15 runners came down and jockey Donald Nicholson died. Another low point in the Cup’s history occurred on the eve of the Cup in 1922, when a suspicious fire destroyed the Members’ Stand and other facilities, but the race went ahead the next day regardless.
It is possible that this year will mark a significant milestone in the history of the Caulfield Cup, as it may stop being a handicap race and instead adopt weight-for-age conditions. That means the competing horses will carry weights dependent on factors such as their age and sex, rather than their recent wins. The Melbourne Racing Club is also considering boosting the prize from $3 million to $4 million.
The ultimate goal of the proposed changes is to attract more overseas entrants. As Melbourne Racing Club chairman Mike Symons spelled out, “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
Each year only 18 horses get a chance to take to the field in the Caulfield Cup, along with emergency entries, and the entire racing world stops to see who gets the nod. It’s a bit like the nominations for the Oscars, but there’s far more money at stake. Automatic entry goes to the winners of the Group 2 Herbert Power Stakes and the Listed Mornington Cup, while the rest fight it out in a ballot system that depends on their recent wins, placings and prize money.
The big news after last year’s barrier draw was that the favourite Jameka had drawn barrier 13. Trainer Ciaron Maher was thrilled. “It’s not the inside and it’s not the outside, so it hasn’t changed much for her,” he said. “She has done everything nearly right this preparation and that barrier will give her chance to win a Caulfield Cup.” Jameka seized that chance, bringing home the cup.
If three is your lucky number, and you were willing to bet for a place, Exospheric was the horse you should have gone for in last year’s Caulfield Cup. It drew Barrier 3, its saddlecloth was number 3, and it came third in the race.
You don’t have to wait for the final Caulfield Cup odds, which are released a few days before the race, if you’re keen to make a bet. There are future odds that are offered months in advance and can be extremely lucrative. That’s because you are not just betting on a horse’s performance in the race, you are also staking money on whether or not they will do well enough in the lead-up races to even get a chance.
The final odds are calculated according to the horses’ performance in a number of races, including the Metropolitan, Spring Champion Stakes, Craven Plate, Yalumba Stakes and Cranbourne Cup.
If you’re looking for a safe bet the Caulfield Cup might be the one for you, as favourites have had a relatively good record. Throughout the history of the Cup favourites have won 40 times. The winners with the shortest prices were Tulloch in 1957 at 6-4 and Tobin Bronze in 1966 at 11-8.
While the Caulfield Cup race is by far the most exciting moment in the carnival, it is not the only one you should be paying attention to. There are two other great days that attract the attention of racing fans and punters from around Australia. The first is Caulfield Guineas Day, which this year will take place on Saturday 14 October, and the second is Ladies Day Blue Sapphire Stakes on Wednesday 19 October.