A dummies guide to losing on the Melbourne Cup

By Cameron McMillan

A punter cheers on the field during last year's Melbourne Cup. Photo / Getty Images
A punter cheers on the field during last year's Melbourne Cup. Photo / Getty Images

I've been betting on the Melbourne Cup for the last 12 years and in that time I've become an expert at picking a loser. Or to be more exact really good at failing to pick a winner.

And not just the winning horse, a winning bet. I haven't even picked a place. 12 years, hundreds of dollars, countless bets, not one punt bringing home a dividend.

So I'm passing on my lack of wisdom and the possible places where I'm going wrong in making my picks on race day. Follow these steps and you may have a better chance of winning money.

Don't research
Every year I spend hours scanning the form chart, reading articles and studying up on each one of the horses in the field. How the horse has performed recently, the history of the jockey, previous form at Flemington, whether the horse had a good night sleep - all key to making my picks.

It's obviously never paid off. This year I'm just picking a name I like.

Saves time.

Don't take time picking
During that research time at some point I'll consider putting money on every horse in the field. So when the winner crosses the line I'm left thinking 'Efficient, yes I was going to put money on that one'. Never fails. Just pick one and stick with it.

Don't give advice
Since I'm the 'sports' guy in the office I often get asked for advice on Cup day. Due to my losing streak I'm aware of leading people in the wrong direction but two years ago a couple of colleagues pushed me for a pick. I said Americain. They went with my tip and the horse went onto win. I of course didn't put money on Americain.

At least consider the favourite
I never pick the favourite because I consider it being the 'easy' option, plus a return of $1.80 on a $5 bet isn't that really worth it. But the favourite wins the Cup 23 percent of the time. I'd take one win every four years over none in 12 years.

Don't go against history
In 2004 and 2005 I didn't pick Makybe Diva because I have that theory that's it's such a massive race that surely no horse can win it twice in a row, or even three times straight. I didn't back a back-to-back to go back-to-back-to-back. I was wrong. So don't rule out 2011 champion Dunaden.

Bet on the right race
I'm not that inept but it happens. Remember it's meeting seven, race seven.

Right horse, wrong bet
The only time I do pick one of the top three horses, it just happens to be in a trifecta where the two other horses finish well off the pace. Either box or avoid all trifectas.

Don't read Twitter
Everyone in the office is a racing expert on Melbourne Cup day and that continues onto Twitter where a large percentage of the people I follow feel the need to declare who they are backing. It fills my Twitter feed with a wide range of bets that sway my opinion.

Avoid barrier 18
Here's an actual fact you can take away. Barrier 18 has never produced a Melbourne Cup winner. So avoid Red Cadeaux.

...and don't pick Maluckyday
Because I have $5 for a win on it. It took me two seconds to decide and I'm sticking with it. If I'm true to form the horse will lead for a large chunk of the race before finishing at the back of the pack. That's a dead cert.

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