The Melbourne Cup is the biggest event on the Australian horse racing calendar
With Fiorente, Waterhouse May be On Track For Her First Melbourne Cup
Betting on the Melbourne Cup is one of the biggest events on the sporting calendar for bookies in Australia and this week sees the whole of Australia turn their eye towards the ponies with many hoping the Gai Waterhouse can finally break her duck in the event.
There has never been anyone in Australian thoroughbred racing quite like Gai Waterhouse.
The 59-year-old has a story that is the stuff of legend. A native of Scotland, she is the daughter of Tommy Smith, an immensely successful trainer of horses himself, and indeed, she served as an apprentice for fifteen years at her father’s side, carefully learning the trade.
But she had another life beforehand – that of an actress, appearing most notably on the Australian soap opera The Young Doctors. She’s not escaped scandal, as transgressions on the part of her husband and son brushed up against her (not that she was completely clean, mind you) and even made getting licensed a chore. But once she was established, she was hard to stop. Five Sydney training premierships can attest to that.
She’s been saddling entrants in the Melbourne Cup for 20 years now, having sent her first challenger, Te Akau Nick, to post in 1993. In that race her charge finished second to Vintage Crop, and there must have been the feeling that there would be many trips into the winner’s circle after that result.
Well, there haven’t been. In fact, in her Hall of fame career (that accolade awarded her in 2007), a Melbourne Cup win is the one prize that has eluded Waterhouse.
Of course, as far as many Australians are concerned, it is THE prize. And it leaves a tremendous void.
You see, for Aussie sports bettors “Down Under,” there is nothing quite like the Melbourne Cup, which takes place on an annual basis at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. When an event carries a tag line like “the race that stops a nation,” and delivers on that brand, you know you’ve got something very big. For its length (two miles) it is the richest handicap race in the world. And it plays host to some of the sport’s premier marathon runners.
It is older than any of America’s Triple Crown races, having been first run in 1861, and it accommodates more contestants than any of them do. Indeed, there could be many more. Although there are hundreds of horses who aspire to be involved (actually, we’re pretty sure it’s their connections who harbor the aspirations) the field is “limited” to 24 starters (for safety reasons). That is done through a process of “balloting,” which takes into account many factors, including the prize money the horse has won over the previous two years, and performances in the prep races that come before. Since there are horses from all over the world, it is difficult to come up with uniform standards to use. But there is a list of races that offer an exemption and automatic entry to the winner. Among them are the Arlington Million and San Juan Capistrano Handicap in the United States.
This year Waterhouse may have her best chance yet to win the Cup, as she will send the 13/2 favorite, Fiorente, to the gate on Tuesday at Flemington. Here are the odds on the contenders as they are posted at leading Aussie bookmaker Bet365.
Mount Athos 7/1
Sea Moon 12/1
Voleuse De Coeurs 16/1
Brown Panther 16/1
Royal Empire 16/1
Tres Blue 20/1
Dear Demi 20/1
Green Moon 33/1
Masked Marvel 33/1
Red Cadeaux 50/1
Super Cool 50/1
Waterhouse will have not just one horse, but two in the running when the Cup gets underway. Aside from Fiorente, she’s got Tres Blue as well. And she feels pretty good about that three-year-old’s chances, saying that he “oozes talent, that fellow.”
Tres Blue is priced at +2000 in the Melbourne Cup odds at Bet365.
But Fiorente could be due. He ran second to Green Moon in last year’s Melbourne Cup, running for the first time in Australia.
A win in the Group I Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes and then third place in the Cox Plate, in what was not the best of trips, reinforces the chances for Waterhouse’s horse in the minds of many.
This is actually one of the few Australian-trained horses in the race, although Waterhouse has had him only a little over a year. The fact that all the Australian bettors (punters) have seen the horse now contributes to his favorite’s status.
So does the post position, which puts Fiorente in the #5 “barrier.”
Some experts in the horse racing betting community think that Waterhouse’s star may have had too much taken out of him in the Cox Plate to come back on such short notice and put out for this race. But not everyone is on board with that, obviously.
Crown Casino founder Lloyd Williams, who, as owner, directed Green Moon along the Cup path last year, describes Fiorente’s form as “impeccable” and adds that “if none of his SIX entrants is worthy of winning this year’s race, I hope Gai does. I’d be as thrilled for her to win the race as I would be for myself. I would just love her to win the Cup.”
But he would REALLY love to see Green Moon (33/1) win it for the second straight year. That’s something only four other horses have done – Archer, who took the first two Melbourne Cups in 1861 and 1862; Rain Lover (1968, 1969), Think Big (1974, 1975) and of course, Makybe Diva, the only three-time winner of the race, from 2003-05. Green Moon drew the #10 barrier. Dunaden (40/1 at Bet365), the 2011 winner (in what has been the closest finish ever), who has won three out of four starts in Australia, is on the inside #1 barrier.
Your headquarters for betting “the race that stops a nation” is www.Bet365.com!