Melbourne Cup Betting Guide

Field, odds, history and how to bet online

The biggest sporting event on the calendar in Australia is without a doubt the Melbourne Cup

The sheer significance of this distinguished horse race is unparalleled around the world. Needless to say, the best of the best are attracted to the race in an attempt to claim the prestigious crown of the Melbourne Cup champion.

The Melbourne Cup Carnival is technically the official event and features plenty of prestige and Dom Pérignon. However, the heart of the Melbourne Cup Carnival is the titular event, the Melbourne Cup itself. This race takes place on the first Tuesday of November at 3 p.m. AEST in Flemington

Achieving legendary status among racing fans, 24 magnificent thoroughbred horses are the main attraction, drawing more than 100,000 people every year. As they speed down the track, a difficult distance at 3,200 meters, racegoers cheer and revel in the atmosphere of excitement.

Melbourne Cup: A handicap race

One of the wealthiest races in the world, the Melbourne Cup boasts prize money that is certainly impressive. 

The 2018 race saw a total of $7.3 million handed out. Prize money was up from the $6.2 million awarded the year previous, with this prize pot only growing every year. 

As a handicap race, the idea of the Melbourne Cup is to give every horse a level playing field and a fair chance. 

Handicap conditions mean horses carry weights in their saddle, based on their history in races and career. More successful horses are weighed down with heavier loads. The theory is that the weight will disadvantage, or “handicap,” the successful horse to compensate a less successful horse.

This handicap edge is precisely how the Melbourne Cup creates an air of intense competition and exhilaration. When the starting pistol fires, the thoroughbred horse race has delivered some the most exciting action in all of the sports.

Best betting sites for the Melbourne Cup

There are plenty of bettors who would love a piece of that high-rolling prize money the Melbourne Cup promises. That we can’t offer you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rake in cash from this major event. 

The sports betting sites we list here are the best available in the US, making this your one-stop-shop for learning how and where to bet on horse racing online. These sites also give sports bettors the best shot at becoming a winner.

Every single site offers racing action and coverage that is unparalleled. Not just for the Melbourne Cup in Australia, either. Tracks from all over the world are represented, numbering in the hundreds, making sure that you never miss a race. 

Remember, however, that you are responsible for ensuring your bets on horse races is legal in your area. After all, not all states in the US support legal online horse betting.

These sites are remarkably easy to use. So easy that even those new to betting and horse racing can learn how to place their bets online. 

You can compare the sites with others in the industry to ensure your chosen betting site is highly rated and delivers the best odds. 

Our recommended sites offer a selection of the best horse race betting action available online today.

How to bet on the Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is not just another horse race; it’s a national tradition in Australia that’s spreads around the world. Featuring some of the sport’s best horses, you are guaranteed to receive nonstop action at every furlong. 

There is only one way to make this race more exciting, and that’s backing your favorite to win it all. 

Doing this couldn’t be any easier, as we explain below.

Online betting

In the US, plenty of places allow online betting when it comes to horse races. In fact, as of 2024, 39 out of 50 states consider online horse race betting legal thanks to horse racing’s rich and vibrant history worldwide. 

There are horse racing events and tracks all across the US, taking place in most states. Naturally, where there’s a competition, you’re likely to find people anxious to bet on the outcome.

Until the recent boom of internet activity, all betting took place at the tracks. Now, however, you can place bets on horse races from almost anywhere with cell service or an internet connection. 

In today’s technological golden age, where everyone has a mobile device in hand, online wagering is even easier. So, there is no reason for you not to slap down a wager on the hottest national and international races, including the Melbourne Cup.

Betting at the teller

Are you a stickler for tradition and the atmosphere of the race? You may, therefore, prefer to bet at the teller counter instead of a website on your phone, tablet or laptop. 

For those new to the races, though, betting can seem complicated. Needless to say, no one wants to sound ignorant or uninformed. 

Here’s how you can sound like an ol’ pro, even if you are new to the world of horse racing betting.

The order of your bet is important. 

This is the quickest way to place your bet so that you don’t hold up the line

First, tell the teller your racetrack and race number, but only if you’re betting on a race held at a different track. 

Then, give them the amount of your bet and the type of bet.

Lastly, tell them the program number of the horse

For example, you could say something like, “California Chrome, Race 3, $10 to win on No. 4”. 

It’s nice, quick and to the point.

Off track betting

Off-track betting (OTB) facilities allow you to place bets on horse races without actually being at the track. 

Those new to betting and wagering on a horse race may not know what to expect. Not to worry; we’re here to help. 

You must know what it means when you place a bet on a horse to win, place or show. To learn more about the betting options at the Melbourne Cup, read further. 

From the comfort and safety of a secure OTB facility, betting is available on all horse races daily. These establishments have it all whether you’re there for the adrenaline rush of the Melbourne Cup or just an average day at the racetrack.

Is it legal to bet on the Melbourne Cup?

Those in the US may not know that it’s perfectly legal to bet on horse racing — in most states. 

Due to the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978, placing wagers on horses at the racetrack is entirely legal. For those worried about the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, special exemptions were made for the horse betting industry. The act allows states to decide the legality of horse racing. 

Currently, 39 states in the US have legalized online horse betting. People in those states have a few more betting options than those that live in the 11 states that don’t allow online horse race betting.

If you’re one of the folks that live in a state where horse racing and betting is not legal, you do have a few options available to you. 

One of these methods is to make use of an offshore betting site. Effectively, this puts regulation and legalities out of the hands of any US governing body. 

The sites that you see on this page are all offshore sites. 

Consequently, there are no federal regulations that make it unlawful to place bets on horse racing. That being said, Washington state and Connecticut residents should know that both of these states have made all forms of online gambling illegal, including offshore sites.

Types of bets you can make on the Melbourne Cup

There are quite a few bets that you can place on a horse race.

Straight wagers of win, place or show are traditional and are familiar among horse race bettors. 

You can also place bets in exotic wager pools, such as exactatrifectasuperfecta and super high five. Exotic bets produce bigger prizes but can be more challenging to win.

Here are some basic definitions for the types of bets you can place on the Melbourne Cup:

  • Win: You place your bet on the horse that you think will win.
  • Place: You place your bet on a horse and are paid out the place price if it should finish first or second.
  • Show: You place your bet on a horse and are paid out the show price if it should finish first, second or third. This bet pays the least.
  • Exacta: Your bet predicts the first two horses in the correct order.
  • Trifecta: Your bet predicts the first three horses in the correct order.
  • Superfecta: Your bet predicts the first four horses in the correct order. This wager is one of the highest payouts in horse racing.
  • Super High Five: Your bet predicts the first five horses in the correct order. This wager is one of the highest payout wagers in all of horse racing.

An example bet

The Melbourne Cup is one supercharged day of racing. 

It’s therefore only fitting that the super high five bet is a popular choice. Also known as the super hi-5, this type of bet sees you pick the first horses to cross the finish line that day. If you pick them correctly, you win the cash. 

An example of a super high five bet would be picking the winner of races one, two, three, four and seven on Melbourne Cup day. Put a dollar or two on this wager, and you can expect some wild odds and an even crazier payout should your horses romp home to victory down the final straight.

Past winners of the Melbourne Cup

Over its long history, the Melbourne Cup has claimed its place as the most popular and the most important of all the horse races in Australia. 

“Magnificent” isn’t an exaggeration when it comes to the Melbourne Cup. After all, the event has been aptly described as “the race that stops a nation.” 

Since its conception in 1861, the Melbourne Cup has even evolved to become a national tradition, celebrating Australia’s love for thoroughbred horse racing. Its value to the nation is undeniable, and it is dearly loved. 

But, it’s not just that event itself that has become much-loved in the eyes of the nation. Over the years, many a winner has ridden his (or her) way into the history books, not to mention the hearts of millions of horse racing fans.

List of winners from 2000-19

This table lists the winners, jockey, trainers, field and times. For a complete list, please see our Melbourne Cup results and winners page.

2018Cross CounterKerrin McEvoyCharlie Appleby3:21.1724
2017RekindlingCorey BrownJoseph O'Brien3:21.2923
2016AlmandinKerrin McEvoyRobert Hickmott3:20.5824
2015Prince of PenzanceMichelle PayneDarren Weir3:23.1524
2014ProtectionistRyan MooreAndreas Wöhler [de]3:17.7122
2013FiorenteDamien OliverGai Waterhouse3:20.3024
2012Green MoonBrett PrebbleRobert Hickmott3:20.4524
2011DunadenChristophe LemaireMikel Delzangles3:20.8423
2010AmericainGérald MosséAlain de Royer-Dupre3:26.8723
2009ShockingCorey BrownMark Kavanagh3:23.8723
2008ViewedBlake ShinnBart Cummings3:20.4022
2007EfficientMichael RoddGraeme Rogerson3:23.3421
2006Delta BluesYasunari IwataKatsuhiko Sumii3:21.4723
2005Makybe DivaGlen BossLee Freedman3:19.1724
2004Makybe DivaGlen BossLee Freedman3:28.5524
2003Makybe DivaGlen BossDavid Hall3:19.9023
2002Media PuzzleDamien OliverDermot K. Weld3:16.9723
2001EtherealScott SeamerSheila Laxon3:21.0822
2000BrewKerrin McEvoyMike Moroney3:18.6822

Road to the Melbourne Cup

The success of a horse is the most significant factor when it comes to qualifying for the Melbourne Cup. 

The Cup takes 24 entrants, and horses are evaluated based on their performance in races that are relevant to the Melbourne Cup. Races that are considered relevant for qualification include group races with distances over 2,300 meters, both in Australia and around the world. The Melbourne Cup only accepts horses that are 3 years or older. An alternative method of qualifying for the Melbourne Cup is to win an exemption race.

The last chance for a horse to qualify for the Melbourne Cup is the last Saturday before the event begins in November. 

Horses can gain a start in the Cup by running and placing in the LKS Mackinnon Stakes and Hotham Handicap. This qualification can lead to some exciting fluctuations in betting prices as everything becomes final in the last days right before the Melbourne Cup. These two races can drastically alter the winning potentialities of horses and shake up the odds.

Melbourne Cup odds

The Melbourne Cup form guide should be relatively easy for the more experienced horse race bettors out there. 

For amateurs bettors, however, such as those who only come out on the day of the Melbourne Cup, the form guide can overwhelm and intimidate. In other words, the interpretation does take some work. 

Here are the basics to get you started: 24 horses compete in the Melbourne Cup and only one horse can win. Bettors will try to predict the winner of the Cup overall, or the horses that will place in the race. Those who wish to place a bet should be reasonably familiar with the horses competing, their strengthsweaknesses and history of racing.

Knowing any and all the information about the horses is essential if you want to place a solid bet. Why? Because every horse that enters is unique and in top form. 

You should know the weight that your horse will be carrying in the Melbourne Cup. Also, you should be familiar with the trainers because some are better at producing winners than others. 

Recently, horses from outside of Australia and New Zealand have been dominating the places at the Cup, adding more spice into the mix.

Are you worried about not getting the best odds on the Melbourne Cup? Don’t be, as we have got them for you right here:


How the Melbourne Cup race runs

As the most popular racetrack in Australia, Flemington is the home of the Victoria Racing Club

In total, it boasts a field with a capacity of 120,000 people. That may seem like a lot, but there are plenty of spectators who never make it to the field. Instead, they watch from the panels of TVs outside the field. The flat track is pear-shaped, with a back straight totaling six furlongs.

The finishing post is at the end of the final straight, which measures at 450 meters. It is this home stretch that has made or broken horses in Melbourne Cup history, where the winner is decided. 

Make no mistake, that lengthy home stretch is grueling, with only the toughest of horses able to ride it all the way to Melbourne Cup glory.

How to watch the Melbourne Cup on TV or via online stream

In Australia, the Melbourne Cup is a significant sporting event and is aired for free on Channel 7 every year. 

Spectators can watch it on TV from the comfort of their home. Thanks to the popularity of streaming in recent years, you can also watch from your laptop or mobile device at

If you live outside Australia, such as the US, UK or Canada, you are going to need to find another way to watch the action unfold.

For those who wish to watch the Melbourne Cup but live outside of Australia, TVG and other streaming services are your best bet. Besides, some bookmakers may provide free access to a stream of the race should you make a qualifying wager. 

In some instances, you might need a VPN to watch a stream of the Melbourne Cup. Though that may sound difficult, VPNs are rather easy to set up and use these days, which is a pleasant surprise for many horse racing fans.

History of the Melbourne Cup

The history of the Melbourne Cup is undoubtedly an interesting one. 

As mentioned, the Cup was first run in 1861 after horse racing was officially taken over in Melbourne by the Victoria Turf Club. 

Up until this point, horse races and events were organized by small clubs. The track was developed first in 1835, but it wasn’t until that first Melbourne Cup in 1861 that Australia really began to feel the momentum of the occasion. 

Archer, a hand bay stallion, has gone down in history as the first winner of the prestigious Cup, beating out 17 other horses to claim the crown.

The legend of Archer is one that has been told year after year. The bay stallion supposedly walked more than 500 miles in order to compete, and actually won again in 1862. He, therefore, ranks among of only five horses to ever win the Melbourne Cup more than once.

Archer was not the favorite of 1862 and, instead, defeated the Victorian champion Mormon, by six lengths. The end of his Melbourne Cup career came in 1863 when the first winner of the Cup was scratched on a technicality. 

Competitors paid tribute by scratching their horses in solidarity, meaning that the race hosted only seven starters that year.

Victoria Racing Club founded

In 1864, the Victoria Turf Club and the Victoria Jockey Club merged to create the VRC, the Victoria Racing Club, which maintains its charge over the event to this day. 

Cup Day was declared a half-day holiday in 1865 and became an all-day holiday later in 1877. As the race that attracts a significantly larger amount of attention than any other in Australia, this was a major milestone for the Melbourne Cup.

The tradition of the Melbourne Cup date, the first Tuesday of November, began in 1875 and holds still. Also, this was the year that the VRC landed on the four-day celebration that would become the Melbourne Cup Carnival. 

Recently, as international and foreign horses have joined the ranks of the racers, the carnival has evolved to become a global powerhouse of entertainment and culture.

First filly winner

The first filly winner of the Melbourne Cup came in 1876 with Briseis, who ran a time of 3:36.25

Later, Briseis would go on to win the VRC Derby and the VRC Oaks, in addition to the Melbourne Cup, all over only six days. Briseis was ridden by the record-holder for youngest jockey in the history of the Melbourne Cup, featherweight Peter St. Albans, who would turn 13 only eight days after the Melbourne Cup. 

To this day, St. Albans and Briseis hold that record.

Most famous Cup winner

The most well-known racehorse in Australia is Phar Lap, who was known for his speed and stamina. He became the favorite in most races in September 1929. 

Furthermore, he was a symbol of hope for race crowds in Australia during the Great Depression in the 1930s. His most famous accomplishment was his four-day win streak in the 1930 Flemington Spring Carnival, which included a carry weight of 62.5 kg in the Melbourne Cup. Over his entire career, Phar Lap had a stunning 73% win rate, with 37 wins out of 51 starts.

The most impressive record, however, may be the carry weight of the victor. The Melbourne Cup is a handicap race. As such, more successful horses carry more weight to even the race out for less successful horses and to create an intensely competitive atmosphere. Carbine carried 66 kg to victory in the 1890 Melbourne Cup and was ridden by Bob Ramage

Later, in 1931, Phar Lap would carry more weight, at 68 kg in his final Melbourne Cup. But he would not win, conceding to White Nose when the extra weight proved too much for the legendary horse to claim the win.

Fastest time

The current distance of 3,200 meters, short 18 meters of that monumental first race, was established in 1972. That’s after Australia adopted the metric system in the 1970s. Race records at this time were adjusted to compensate for the longer distance by two seconds.

For example, the 1968 winner held a record at the time for 3:17.9, by the horse Rain Lover

The current holder of the record stands at a time of 3:16.3, held by the winner of the 1990 Melbourne Cup, Kingston Rule.

Multiple winners

The most victories of the Melbourne Cup go to Makybe Diva after winning three consecutive years in a row, starting in 2003. 

Makybe Diva’s jockey, Glen Boss, and trainer, Lee Freedman, can be credited with this record. That year would start the three-year winning streak of Makybe Diva. 

Throughout many years, Bart Cummings would subsequently claim the record of the most successful trainer, having produced 12 winners. In this case, numbers don’t lie.

Cummings’ success was made even more astounding that is highly allergic to both horses and hay. This didn’t stop him from winning in 1965-67, 1974-75, 1977, 1979, 1990-91, 1996, 1999 and 2008. 

These wins earned him the nickname “The Cups King.” He also trained Kingston Rule, who holds the fastest time in Melbourne Cup history. His 12th Cup victory was viewed in 2008, beating Bauer in an intense photo finish. This win happened to fall on the 50th anniversary of when he entered his first runner in the Melbourne Cup.

Melbourne Cup FAQ

The Melbourne Cup race occurs on the first Tuesday in the month of November. Locally, the race is known as “the race that stops a nation” as Cup Day is a holiday in Australia. The next Melbourne Cup is November 4th, 2019.

There is a total of 24 horses that make up the Melbourne Cup field. Unlike other major races, there are no standbys.

For the 2019 race, the total prize money of the Melbourne Cup was $8 million AUD, in addition to trophies that place the value at $250,000 AUD. This prize money is divided among the first 12 horses past the finishing post. The winner will be paid $4 million AUD, second place earns $1 million AUD, and third place earns $500,000 AUD. Meanwhile, fourth place earns $250,000 AUD, and fifth earns $175,000 AUD. Places 6 through 12 all then earn an equal amount of $150,000 AUD in prize.

Breakdown of the 2019 Melbourne Cup Purse

PlacingPrize Money

The most famous race in Australia of course. Jokes aside the Melbourne Cup is held annually. It is a thoroughbred flat horse race.

The race begins at 3pm (AEST). The Melbourne Cup 2019 is also race 7 on the Flemington card.

In the history of the cup, only three fillies have ever won. They are Briseis in 1876, Auraria in 1895, and Sister Olive in 1921. So we are definitely long overdue another filly winner.

For the Melbourne Cup in 2019, ticket prices remained the same as 2018. General Admission prices start at $47, though VIP packages will of course be more expensive. One thing that the Melbourne Cup offers that many major events don’t is the free entry of children under the age of 16. They must be accompanied by an adult, though.

The race itself lasts approximately 3 minutes and 20 seconds. This includes so much action at every single furlong that your heart will be racing for sure.

Kingston Rule holds the record for the fastest win in the history of the Melbourne Cup with his 1990 win on Cup Day. Kingston Rules’ namesake, Kingston Town, was known as the Champion of the 80s, and was the first Australian horse to earn more than $1 million in stakes.

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