The Melbourne Cup has a magic that no other Australian sporting event does.

As part of our national identity, it’s the one chance our industry has to engage and capture the attention of everyone.

For most in the industry, Cup day is the first thing that sparked our interest when we were young. Most vividly remember every Cup of their formative years, and even the most hardened industry professionals still get excited by it.

The wagering provides a sense of nostalgia for older punters as well. For this one race a year, we’re taken back to a time when racing was the number one sport in newspapers and on TV, when nearly everyone was talking about betting on racing – and racing alone – throughout the year.

Having all the recreational money in play entices the seasoned pros to up their stakes, and the pools for this one race a year skyrocket to a level reminiscent of a bygone era. This can create some great value for punters if you look to take a different angle on things.

I specialise in NSW racing, but that doesn’t stop me from getting heavily involved in the Cup each year due to the potential overlays that are presented. Even though the field is not known at the time of writing, I can take you through a few tricks that have served me well over the years.

Finding the winner is fun, and there is often good value to be found due to the nature of the field. Even with 24 runners, genuine winning chances are usually very limited. A lot of the roughies are shorter than they should be, as they’re the runners well supported by the once a year punters who make up such a large proportion of the market.

I like to focus most of my attention on the trifecta because of all the pools, this market generates the most overlays. This is because of the way the recreational punter plays their trifectas. They love to box three, four or five runners, and also overuse the ‘field’ option in legs. They do this because it’s a simple and easy way for a once-a-year punter to get a jackpot-style result.

This gives us a chance to get some extra value by being a bit more disciplined with our selections, and taking the extra time to submit more bets with more combinations. I’ll leave the form part aside, as one of the great things about the day is everyone forming their own opinions and going with them. Instead we’ll talk about how to structure our trifectas.

The first thing to do is to separate the race into:

(a) main winning chances (maximum of three)

(b) outside winning chances (maximum of four)

(c) place chances (maximum of five)

When in doubt, leave out the runner that’s paying less on the tote compared to its fixed odds. These are usually overplayed in trifectas.

I know it may seem hard to cut it down to twelve chances, but I figure if I can’t narrow a race down to only half the field, then I probably don’t deserve the collect anyway!

Outlined below are some ways to play it from here. The simple approach involves using the ‘roving banker’ option when filling out your ticket. It allows you to select a runner that must run a place, and combine it with as many others as you like. You could play it this way:


But if you’re happy to spend a little extra time filling out extra tickets, then this is an even better way to play:



The second option places more weight on your favoured runners. But it also allows you to be completely wrong with those A selections and potentially still land a good collect.

Naturally, the size of the collect with be dictated by the price of the runners you select that ultimately fill the placings. You can also increase the percentage of the dividend that you’ll get by having less runners in each category.

Playing your trifectas this way will give you an edge over 95% of the punters that will be betting on the big day, and help maximize your value in a very lucrative pool.

The hard part? Finding the right horses!

Best of luck on Tuesday.