MARKETS SPECTATOR: To back the Cup favourite... or not

An interest rate cut is far from a safe bet, so for those looking to play the odds the Melbourne Cup might be a better option. The only question now is which horse to bet on?

Once again, the race that stops a nation is upon us, and with it the usual dilemma of who to back.

Three weeks ago, the best bet on cup day was for an interest rate cut. However, the odds have lengthened considerably, going from 85 per cent four weeks ago to 52 per cent this morning.

With this afternoon’s interest rate decision a coin toss at best, we’ve decided to turn our attention towards the track and focus on the four legged variety.

As it stands, Americain is the favourite at $6 from Dunaden, last year’s winner at $7.50. But should we back it?

Americain’s recent form is pretty good having just missed a podium finish in the Caulfield Cup with what was considered a very good run. It knows how to win the big races, especially over 3000 meters as it won the Melbourne Cup two years ago. It’s also won once over 3100 meters and twice over 3000 meters, so there’s no doubting it can run out the distance, which is a big plus in a two-miler.

Whilst he’s been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, you can’t argue with Damien Oliver as the jockey. He’s won two Melbourne Cups, first up in 1995 on Doriemus and secondly on board Media Puzzle in 2002, which he dedicated to his late brother who had tragically been killed in a race fall just days before. Ten years on, there’s bound to be plenty of emotional energy driving Damien towards the post today.

He’s drawn a near perfect barrier in number 12. When he won in 2010 he jumped from barrier 11 and last year’s winner, Dunaden came from barrier 13, so there’s no excuses here.

Since the Melbourne Cup was first run in 1861, favourites have won the great race 33 times or 22 per cent of the time and placed 66 per cent of time.

However, it doesn’t all favour the favourite.

It and Dunaden are the two top weights for the race, carrying 58kgs and 59kgs respectively. Based on history, odds suggest the top weights rarely win. The average weight carried to victory is 54kgs. The highest weight carried to victory in the last 20 years was Makybe Diva, with 58kgs in 2005. So Americain would be only the second winner in 20 years to carry 58kgs.

Whilst the barrier draw looks reasonably positive, barrier 12 hasn’t been too kind, not providing a winner since Foxzami in 1949. Also, Americain is an 8 year old and only two 8 year olds have won in the 151 Melbourne Cups. The last 8 year old won in 1938.

And finally, there have only been five multiple Melbourne Cup winners in history, with the last three being the mighty mare Makybe Diva.

So the stats are pretty evenly split when it comes to supporting the favourite.

If you want to look elsewhere, the quant team at Macquarie Bank have had a pretty good record of late. The bank’s model has picked the last three winners, and this time they’re top ranking horses are Dunaden, Kelinni, Maluckyday, Lights of Heaven, Americain and Galileo’s Choice.

Good luck.

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