Prime Minister John Key is backing Who Shot Thebarman for the Melbourne Cup, citing the horse's New Zealand connections and a link to the Finance Minister's office.

He said Bill English's senior private secretary's brother was a part owner in the horse.

"Given it won the Auckland Cup, that's the one we'll probably have a look at. You've got to trust the finance minister don't you," Mr Key said.

Mr Key will place his bet later today. He has had some luck with the Melbourne Cup - last year he notched up $240 for a $25 each way bet on Cup winner Fiorente. However his other pick, Tres Blue, came nowhere.

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In 2011 he backed Drunken Sailor for a place, a bet driven by his references to then Labour leader Phil Goff as "spending like a drunken sailor." The horse came 12th

Meanwhile, a recruitment company is encouraging employers to let their staff revel in today's Melbourne Cup celebrations.

Letting employees enjoy the racing festivities and support Kiwi horses in the big race will boost morale and improve productivity, according to Randstad New Zealand data.

"The Cup is a chance for New Zealand employers to take a punt and show off their true colours in a bid to bring their people together, celebrate New Zealand's history in the races and boost their workforce engagement," said Director Paul Robinson.

He said employer branding research by showed 55 per cent of Kiwi workers rank a company's ability to provide a pleasant working environment, and 39 per cent rated a healthy work/life balance among the top criteria when choosing an employer.

"Our advice to business leaders is simply to factor in workloads and deadlines on cup day, or face undoing all their efforts," he said.

The day was a great opportunity to get teams together to enjoy the race and boost morale as the busy festive season approaches - the time when workers start to feel the burn of a long year.