As with most horse racing nations around the world, there isn’t really an official start date for the Australian Spring Carnival season. It’s not like, say, opening day in the MLB or the first round of fixtures in the Premier League. Horse racing goes on all year round in most countries, with events held on a daily basis – even Christmas Day – so there’s a sense of continuity, although anticipation does build as we approach the bigger events.
Nonetheless, if we could pinpoint a day in the Australian horse racing calendar when the sense of excitement takes off, it would be official nominations day. And that date has just past, with the 2nd of August seeing the official nominations for the Melbourne Cup, Cox Plate, and Caulfield Cup, as well as other major events like Caulfield Guineas and 1000 Guineas.
The debate begins now
Of course, it is the Melbourne Cup that gets the most international attention. The race that stops a nation is one of the world’s great horse racing events. As with the Kentucky Derby and Grand National, Melbourne Cup tips are discussed all year around. Indeed, Australian bookmakers like PlayUp open the markets for the Melbourne Cup the moment the previous race has ended. It’s the big one in Australia, and plenty of international punters like to have a flutter on it too.
As mentioned, official nominations are now out for the Melbourne Cup 2022. But before you rush off to back your chosen runner, a word of caution: At this stage in the ‘game’, there remain 186 official runners. That massive field will be whittled down again and again before race day (1st of November), finally settling on the traditional field of 24 runners. Right now, there are 143 local (AUS and NZ) entries and 43 international runners declared.
But while the field might look massive now, you should remember there is opportunity in the ante-post betting. In short, there is more potential value in the markets when the field is larger. For example, right now you will see the likes of Duais, Spanish Mission, and Hoo Ya Mal, all three of which have odds of around +1500, listed as race favorites, but that could – and will – over the coming months.
Some interesting names in the mix
The ’art’ of ante-post betting usually involves picking an unknown quantity that might blossom in the coming months or a pick from leftfield that screams value. For instance, the 2019 Melbourne Cup winner Vow and Declare is one of the entries in the list of 186, and it has a price of +10000. To be fair, the horse has never looked the same since winning the big one in 2019, but it’s been there, done that. Be aware that this is not betting advice – it’s simply a note to say there are interesting selections to be made. A previous winner available at 100/1? Some punters will go for it.
However, we should recommend that you be careful when placing your bets. At this stage in the season, most bookmakers will refund your wager should your horse not end up in the race. But the rules can change as we get closer to the off. Take a moment and check if there are any conditions to your bets, as the last thing you will want is your money to be sitting on a horse not competing in the race.
As mentioned in the beginning, the Australian spring racing season is about to start heating up. Runners will be starting off in low-key events across August, before the action really starts to heat up from September onwards. It’s worth getting a hold of that list of 186 runners, then keeping an eye on those who you feel offer some value. By 1st of November, you might be sitting on a favorite with big odds backed long in advance.