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Melbourne Cup What's Your Horse?

Brian D

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thought this may interest the punters from Nine MSN website.

All across Australia people have asked the big question. Who will win the Melbourne Cup?

Every runner in the field of 24 has its own characteristics that point to its likelihood of success on Tuesday when Australians will stop to have their once-a-year flutter on the race which dates back to 1861.

But how do you know which horse to back?

Picking the right number is a good start.

Since saddlecloths were first recorded in 1877 even numbers (69 wins) have the edge over odd numbers (63 wins) while numbers 1-12 have won 83 Cups compared to 49 for numbers 13-24.

Most successful numbers have been four (Master O'Reilly) and 12 (Harris Tweed) with 11 wins each while number one (10 wins) will be carried by last year's winner Viewed.

But a word of warning. Three-time winner Makybe Diva (2005) is the only horse to win carrying number one since Rising Fast (1954).

The number with best recent record is six (Roman Emperor) with six of its seven wins coming in past 50 years and four in the past 20 years while number two (C'est La Guerre) has won five of its seven Cups in the last half century.

Daffodil would be the first horse in more than a century to win carrying number 20, the last being Gaulus (1897).

Basaltico also faces a task with number 18 which had its only win when Peter Pan won the first of his two Cups in 1932 while Shocking would be the second horse after Bitalli (1923) to win with number 21.

Barriers can also hold a clue to the Cup winner and since 1924 gates 11 (Crime Scene) and 14 (Mourilyan) have been most successful with seven and six wins respectively.

They are also the most successful barriers since starting stalls as we know them today were first used in 1958 with five wins each.

Newport would be the first horse ever to win the Cup from barrier 18. Alcopop and Roman Emperor would be the first winners from barriers 12 and 15 since 1958, but a scratching inside them would put them in the best barriers.

Often it is the name of a horse which takes your fancy but be careful.

No horses in this year's field have the most successful initial of Cup winners which is "T" with 16 wins.

Master O'Reilly, Mourilyan and Munsef all have "M" as an initial which has 12 Cup wins but "P", also with 12 wins, is not represented.

"B" and "S" are next best initials with 11 wins each, giving a lift to the hopes of Basaltico, Shocking and Spin Around while "R" has won 10 Cups (Roman Emperor).

Ista Kareem would be the first horse to win the Cup with the initial "I".

Horses with a one-word name have won the Cup 82 times compared to those with a double-barrelled names (61 wins) and triple-word names (five).

However since 1960 the trend has been against one-word names with them winning just 15 Cups, including the last two, while double-barrelled names have won 29. All triple-word named winners have been since 1976.

Also note that one-word named horses haven't won the Cup in three successive years since 1951-53.

C'est La Guerre is the only triple-word named horse in the 2009 Cup and he and Master O'Reilly are a chance to join Gurner's Lane (1982) and Let's Elope (1991) as the only Cup winners with an apostrophe in their name. Both horses also have 15 characters (including spaces) in their names as did What A Nuisance (1985) and Might And Power ((1997), while Changingoftheguard (18 characters) would become the longest named winner.

Seven-character names (Kibbutz, Newport, and Alcopop) have the best record with 31 Cups, Saintly being the last in 1996, while those with eight characters (Daffodil and Shocking) have won 21 Cups, the most recent Ethereal in 2001.

The chances are that this year's Cup winner will be either a four or five-year-old with the latter, after Viewed's success last year, having the slight edge with 43 wins to 42.

Delta Blues (2006) was the 28th six-year-old winner and fifth in the past 11 years, and Makybe Diva the last of 10 seven-year-old winners.

Nine-year-olds Ista Kareem and Spin Around would be the oldest Melbourne Cup winners while Munsef would be just the third eight-year-old winner after Toryboy (1865) and Catalogue (1938).

Males have dominated the Cup over females with 132 wins to 16 with Viewed the 64th stallion, and Efficient the last of 49 geldings.

Mares have won seven Cups since 1988 and Daffodil, Allez Wonder and Leica Ding fly the flag this year.

Bay coloured horses have the best record with 61 wins and, with 19 in this year's race, the chances favour them again. There are no brown horses (37 Cups) while Ista Kareem, Spin Around, and Leica Ding are the chestnuts (34 wins) while Newport would be the sixth grey Cup winner.

Master O'Reilly is registered as a bay or brown gelding and only five have won the Cup.

Matching age, sex and colour and Roman Emperor, Shocking and Changingoftheguard stand out as four-year-old bay stallions (11 wins).

Best weighted on 52.5kg (eight wins) are Alcopop, Harris Tweed, Kibbutz, Newport, and Warringah along with Crime Scene and Munsef and Zavite who have 53kg (eight wins).

Mourilyan has 54.5kg, a weight successful six times and five times since 1976 while Viewed would be the fifth horse ever to win with 58kg and one of the four highest weighted winners in the past 50 years.

Viewed, Alcopop, Allez Wonder and Leica Ding carry weight penalties which 42 Cup winners have done.

Caulfield Cup runners have won 20 of the past 38 Melbourne Cups and Viewed would be 12th to win both races in the same year in his bid to become the just the sixth multiple Melbourne Cup winner after Archer (1861-62), Peter Pan (1932 and 1934), Rain Lover (1968-69), Think Big (1974-75) and Makybe Diva (2003-05).

Four of the last 16 Cup winners, including Viewed last year, raced on Derby Day.

International raiders have won the Cup three times since 1993 and 13 have placed in the first three in the last 11 Melbourne Cups so don't dismiss them.

As for jockey silks, plain bodied jackets (C'est La Guerre and Crime Scene) have an edge as they have won 56 Cups and Zavite has good claims with his jockey wearing a red cap (30 wins).

Don't be afraid of long-shots in the Cup as 16 have won at longer than $31 and The Pearl (1870), Wotan (1936) and Old Rowley (1940) were $101 winners.

Finally Bart Cummings has no peer when it comes to the Melbourne Cup with 12 winners and is chasing number 13 with Viewed, Roman Emperor and Allez Wonder.

There have been 33 favourites or equal favourites win the Cup and Viewed could be the 34th while Roman Emperor could start around the most successful odds of $9 and $11 with 12 and 14 wins respectively. Cummings has his bases covered with long-shot Allez Wonder.

Prediction: Caulfield Cup runner up Roman Emperor ahead of C'est La Guerre, Viewed and Alcopop.

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