Millions of people will analyse the list of runners at the upcoming Melbourne Cup in a bid to pick a winner. It promises to be the biggest betting event of the year, and superstitious punters should bear in mind these considerations:
Beware Barrier 18
Barrier 18 is the only gate that has not produced a single winner since the barrier system was introduced back in 1924. The Melbourne Cup has been held 96 times since then, and there are only 24 barriers, so it really should have yielded four winners based on the law of averages.
The Group 1 Melbourne Cup takes place over 3,200m and that epic distance means that the barrier draw should not play much of a role in determining the winner. Yet superstitious punters will avoid Barrier 18 like the plague, as it seems totally cursed.
At the other end of the scale, Barrier 5 is the most successful. It has produced eight winners over the years. Barriers 1, 4, 6, 8, 10, 14, 17, 19 and 22 have all produced seven winners each over the years, so they are worth checking out if you are feeling superstitious.
The barrier draw will be announced on October 31, along with the final field of runners and the jockey that will ride each of the horses. It will be fascinating to see which horses lands the dreaded Barrier 18. If it is one of the favourites, the odds on it could lengthen as a result. Check out Punters for the final field and barrier draw when it is made.
Avoid Jockeys Wearing Green
Green has always been an unlucky colour for punters and equestrians alike. Even a green handkerchief in the betting ring is considered to bring bad luck, so many people avoid wearing it to Flemington Racecourse on Melbourne Cup Day.
They will certainly not bet on any horse whereby the jockey is wearing green, and a green saddlecloth would be a major turnoff. Red is a very lucky colour among some Asian punters, but green is certified as an unlucky colour across the world, and especially in Australia.
Some cultures find a black horse unlucky, including the French, while the Hungarians and Spanish think they are lucky. Many people will always bet on a grey horse in bad weather.
There are all manner of other quirks that punters will indulge in when Melbourne Cup Day rolls around. Many will never let another person by their racing form paper for them. Some never put betting tickets in their wallet, while others will always put the ticket in between bank notes.
A number of punters use horseshoes for good luck. Some hang them outside their doors before heading out, and many trainers will place one above the stall of a horse for luck. A lot pf punters have a lucky item of clothing, piece of jewellery or pen, and they will clutch these talismanic figures on Melbourne Cup Day.
Trainers Cursed with Bad Luck
There are a couple of trainers that superstitious punters might want to avoid when betting on the Melbourne Cup. Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien is widely regarded as the world’s best trainer, but the Irishman has never saddled a Melbourne Cup winner.
His 2017 contender, Johannes Vermeer, finished second behind his son Joseph’s horse, Rekindling. Last year, his main hope was Il Paradiso, who was travelling very well. However, Joseph’s horse Master Of Reality impeded him and he could only finish fourth. He was later bumped up to third following a stewards’ inquiry, but he has no luck in this race.
Peter Moody, who was famous for handling the outrageously successful Black Caviar, has also never won the Melbourne Cup. He has snapped up Nickajack Cave in a bid to win this year’s race, while O’Brien has favorite Tiger Moth, Santiago and Derby winner Anthony VanDyck running, but superstitious punters might avoid them.
Jockeys Shy Away from Trackwork
Australian racehorse owner Lloyd Williams has previously declared that it is bad luck for any of his riders to undergo track work with his horses ahead of a big race. He claimed that eschewing track work was the major reason for Kerrin McEvoy winning the 2016 Melbourne Cup aboard Almandin.
McEvoy had never previously ridden Almandin, but he destroyed the field on the $11 shot that year, winning his first Melbourne Cup in 16 years in the process. Williams is the most successful owner in Melbourne Cup history, so he may be onto something.
Another superstition held by many jockeys is that they do not like to be wished good luck before a race. Many punters will ensure they never utter those words, and they may grow annoyed with fellow racegoers that do.
Male horses have dominated the Melbourne Cup ever since Makybe Diva completed her famous hat-trick in 2005. She was the most successful horse in the race’s history, but her retirement ushered in an unprecedented period of male ascendency.
Superstitious punters might decide to draw a line through any mares competing this year, although VerryElleegant could be the one to finally break the curse. She has surged to victory in five Group 1 races, including the Winx Stakes and the Turnbull Stakes, and looks poised to give her male counterparts a run for their money this year.
Swiss Skydiver became just the second filly since 1924 to win the Preakness Stakes in the United States earlier this month, so it could be time for girl power to reassert itself at the Melbourne Cup.