The 2020 Melbourne Cup at Flemington on Tuesday 3 November includes an added twist this year. The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted racing in some countries that normally send horses over to chase a share of the massive prize money.
The top 12 finishers all get a share. First prize is $4.4 million. Second place is $1.1 Million, more than the entire pool of quite a few Group 1 races.
Third place - $550,000
Fourth place - $350,000
Fifth place - $230,000
Sixth through 12th place - $160,000
Disclaimer: Go ahead and bet on our top five if you are so inclined to chase the winner. Just know that the Race That Stops a Nation is such a challenging punt that many punters shy away. With a field of 24, picking the one offers just over a four percent chance.
At the time this is being prepared, the field has not been declared, much less the barriers drawn, so by no means should anyone take one of our picks and bet All-In on the Futures market.
Pro Group Racing - Top Five Selections for 2020 Melbourne Cup
First off, to supply some notion of the challenge involved, online bookmaker Ladbrokes is 2019 Melbourne Cup winner Vow And Declare on the 16th line of their price table, at $26.
The favourites, two of them, are quoted at $9, followed by one for $12, one for $15, two for $19, four for $21, six for $31 and five for $34.
We won’t go through the entire table, as below that price there be monsters ranging from $101 to $501.
The prices will shorten as the race nears and some clarity emerges as to which horses will actually line up, but even this far out from the race, it is rare to see favourites offering $9.
Patience is your ally at this early stage and heed the warning that most of the bookies will have. To quote Ladbrokes, “No refunds are given for scratchings or withdrawals regardless of whether or not a particular runner starts or completes the event on which the bet is placed. This means that all bets stand, no refunds are payable, and no deduction applies to winning bets.”
PGR Pick Number One
Russian Camelot - This Irish horse is a four-year-old with six races on his resume. He has won four of those races, finished second twice and had one fourth in a Handicap on a heavy Flemington track over 1400 metres. He seems better suited to longer trips, he showed in winning the Group 1 South Australian Derby (2500 m, 3YO, set weights) in his final start of the 2020 autumn. Russian Camelot works for Danny O’Brien, who won his maiden Melbourne Cup with Vow And Declare in 2019.
PGR Pick Number Two
Verry Elleegant – New Zealand horses have a solid history in the Melbourne Cup and with Chris Waller for her trainer, expect her to be ready. Waller got her from Darren Weir in February of 2019 and Chris Waller does not adopt horses out of love. Verry Elleegant won the Group 1 Tancred Stakes (w.f.a.) over 2400 metres at Rosehill at the end of March and she has high finishes in longer races, when longer races can be found. Following the Tancred win, she ran second in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth Stakes (2000 m, w.f.a.). She won the Group 1 Winx Stakes (1400 m, w.f.a.) at Randwick last start in late August. A soft Flemington track might supply her with an advantage.
PGR Pick Number Three
Surprise Baby – This is another New Zealand horse and although a six-year-old, he has only made 12 starts, but he has made the most of those races. He has made a few starts in shorter races, mainly when just getting started, but he shines over longer trips, with wins or high finishes in races above 2000 metres. He won the Group 2 Adelaide Cup (3200 m, open handicap) in March of 2019. He ran fifth in the 2019 Melbourne Cup and he was less than a length back from Vow And Declare.
PGR Pick Number Four
Finche – This seven-year-old gelding is another Chris Waller horse. He is by Frankel, which is impressive in and of itself. Waller got Finche from Andre Fabre when the horse was sent to Australia. Finche has Melbourne Cup experience and if he lines up for the 2020 race, it will be his third try. He was fourth in 2018 and seventh in 2019. He managed a third last time out, but the 1600 metres of the Group 2 Chelmsford Stakes (w.f.a.) is best viewed as a prep race for Finche. His best win is the Group 3 Kingstown Town Stakes (2000 m, 3YO +, set weights + penalties), but he nearly won the Group 1 Turnbull Stakes (2000 m, 4YO +, set weights + penalties), finishing second by a nose to Kings Will Dream. Finche is a strong possibility to try the Turnbull Stakes in 2020 and he might be going up against some other Melbourne Cup horses, which might supply some insight.
PGR Pick Number Five
Prince Of Arran – Brit trainer Charlie Fellows has been close to major Australian race wins with Prince Of Arran. The horse is not a big winner in terms of number of races won, but he has managed to pile up over $3 million in earnings. He ran third in the 2018 Melbourne Cup and a heartbreakingly close second in 2019 following his win in the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400 m). All that remains to complete a Melbourne Cup 1, 2, 3 trifecta is a Melbourne Cup win in 2020.
Tipping the Melbourne Cup is quite possibly the toughest race on the Australian Thoroughbred racing calendar. The five horses we mentioned are not guaranteed to start the race, but our list has five proven performers in the longer races, including the Melbourne and Caulfield Cups, along with the Cox Plate.
Those who know us will be dreading the aftermath if one of our picks should win, as there will be no living with us, at least until the 2021 Melbourne Cup, where there is an equal chance that one of our picks will finish stone motherless and silence us.