RICH PICKINGS: Well-heeled hooves

Getting a horse into the Melbourne Cup has become an expensive business, in which each owner's form is at least as important as their horse's.

One of the reasons the Melbourne Cup is loved so much by Australians is that is an egalitarian race. Unlike many of the top races around the world, the Cup is a handicap — horses receive different weights depending on their record, such that the field is theoretically even as it leaves the starting gates.

In the folklore of the Cup, the handicapping system gives everyone a chance to win — wealthy owners with a stable full of stars have the same chance as the proverbial battler from the bush.

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