2. Barriers to victory: Horses in barriers nine to 12 have had five wins in the past 14 years. Barrier 18 has never produced the Melbourne Cup winner. This year the race’s only New Zealand-trained runner, The Chosen One, has come up with the cursed gate. Good luck with him.
3. Winning age: Four and five-year-old horses have won the cup 93 times. In the past 13 cups, 12 have been won by horses aged either four, five or six, with Almandin the exception to the recent rule when scoring as a seven-year-old in 2016.
4. Sex matters: Overall, stallions or geldings have won it 69 times, including the past 11 runnings. This year there are only two mares in the race, Magic Wand and Youngstar.
5. Watch the scales: The most successful weight in Melbourne Cup history is 54.5kg (eight wins) followed by 52.5kg (seven) and 53kg (seven).
6. Colour your world: Check the jockey silks – the main colour of royal or navy blue has won 19 times while black has fared well too with 17 wins.
7. Shorten the odds: Horses with odds of 10-1 have won 15 times and those paying 8-1 have won 14 times, but favourites have a poor recent record, winning just once (Fiorente in 2013) since the last of Makybe Diva’s three triumphs in 2005.
Compute all those stats and you’re looking for a 10-1, four or five-year-old stallion wearing a number between 4 and 12, starting from barriers 9-12, carrying a 54-kilogram jockey wearing black or blue silks.
This year, no single horse ticks all of those boxes. So you’ll need to cherry-pick your preferred criteria.
This year a couple of horses stand out using this formula – and at longer odds.
Irish master Aidan O’Brien’s Hunting Horn profiles as a horse that should run well in the Melbourne Cup (aged five, No.6 saddlecloth, barrier 11, 55 kilograms and all navy blue silks on the jockey). He will be gunning to gift the trainer, considered by many to be the world’s best, his first Melbourne Cup winner after his son Joseph beat him to the punch when Rekindling won the race two years ago. Hunting Horn was listed as a $34 chance in the Cup.
The biggest danger might come from a horse that few expect to pose any danger at all. Rostropovich ran fifth in last year’s race when trained by O’Brien, but has spent his spring campaign in the care of Australian Hall of Famer David Hayes, his son Ben and nephew Tom Dabernig. Their Lindsay Park operation will saddle up one of the favourites in Constantinople, but Rostropovich ($67) ticks a few boxes as a five-year-old gelding with saddlecloth No.9, barrier 12 and carrying a large portion of navy blue colours.
But if you wanted a couple of horses a little shorter in the market, it’s hard to look past the Chris Waller-trained Finche. Australia’s top trainer has won race after race this spring carnival and can chalk up success in the country’s three richest events if he can add the Melbourne Cup to the trophy cabinet after claiming the $14 million The Everest and $7.5 million Golden Eagle. Finche is No.11 with 54kg on his back and quoted at $10.
Constantinople is another which should run well as a four-year-old stallion with 52.5kg, black sleeves and a price of $8.
So wondering which horse to back at 3pm on Tuesday? You could do worse than including Hunting Horn, Rostropovich, Finche and Constantinople.
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.