Weighted Certainties In The History Of The Melbourne Cup

Today we will explore the top five weighted certainties in the history of the Melbourne Cup. Sometimes, in hindsight a Melbourne Cup winner was always a certainty based on their weight and their ability. Sometimes this becomes obvious after the race and sometimes it is clear before the race. Here are the top five weighted certainties in the history of the Melbourne Cup.

5. Phar Lap 9.12 (62.5kg) 1930.

Now this is a huge weight for a four-year-old to carry, but in reality, Phar Lap is possibly the best horse the world has ever seen and 9.12 was never going to be enough to stop him. 10.10 (68kg) stopped him the next year and he probably should have had 10.5 in 1930. The public clearly knew that 9.12 was not nearly enough to stop him because he started at 11/8 on ($1.72) which is the only time a horse has ever started odds on in the Melbourne Cup, and thus is the shortest starting price ever in the Cup.

Before the Melbourne Cup of 1930, Phar Lap had won 7 top level weight for age races in a row thus protecting him from the handicapper. He was given the huge weight when the weights first came out in July, and through careful programming, Phar Lap avoided any penalties. As such, come Cup day, everyone in Australia knew Phar Lap could not be beaten with 9.12. He was a weighted certainty.

4. Peter Pan 7.6 (47kg) 1932.

This was a hindsight weighted certainty. Sure in 1932 Peter Pan was a three-year-old, and three-year-olds do not have the best record in the Cup. But it turns out that Peter Pan was one of the top 3 best stayers to ever run in Australia. The handicapper did the right thing in giving him 7.6 in 1932, he obviously did not know Peter Pan would turn out to be a champion. 7.6 was a fair weight for the three-year-old. But really, even as a three-year-old, Peter Pan had displayed tremendous staying ability and 7.6 in hindsight was a joke. Peter Pan could not be beaten with that weight. The public clearly felt Peter Pan was a good chance due to his weight because he was installed the 4/1 favourite, something that was very rare for a three-year-old.

On Derby Day before the Cup, Peter Pan had won the Melbourne Stakes by two lengths at a very short quote. From this win, it was clear to see that he was a massive chance in the Cup, especially with the 7.6. He was more than a massive chance, he was a weighted certainty.

3. Let’s Elope 51kg 1991.

Let’s Elope was a magnificent mare and leading into the 1991 Melbourne Cup, the Cummings trained staying mare had won the Turnbull (by three lengths), the Caulfield Cup and the Mackinnon. This is perfect lead up form for the Melbourne Cup. Beyond perfect! Because Let’s Elope was a four year old mare, she was handicapped on the minimum to start with then received a 2.5kg penalty for her dominate win in the Caulfield Cup. The maximum penalty available for the handicapper after a Caulfield Cup victory is 5kg. The handicapper clearly felt Let’s Elope’s win at Caulfield was not super impressive and as such only enforced half of the maximum penalty. The result of a super mare having just 51kg in the country’s richest race was a smashing! Even if she had of received the full 5kg penalty, she still would have won! Again, the public knew she was a weighted certainty because she jumped the 3/1 favourite. With 51kg, Let’s Elope could not be beaten; she was a weighted certainty!

2. Even Stevens 8.6 (53.5kg) 1962.

This champion Kiwi stayer was responsible for one of the biggest betting coups in Australian racing history. And it all is because of clever (albeit a bit dodgy) placement, and handicap avoidance. In 1961, Even Stevens won the Avondale Cup in New Zealand; he won in such a way that his connections instantly knew he was a champion. The connections immediately put a plan in place for the following year’s Melbourne Cup (1962). The key was to keep Even Stevens fit without allowing him to win in a dominate fashion. If he was to continue winning in the style that he won the Avondale Cup, he would have been handicapped with a huge weight for the following years Melbourne Cup. So after the Avondale Cup, Even Stevens finished unplaced in his next three starts! He then had a spell of almost a year. The first part of the plan was complete. When the weights for the 1962 Caulfield and Melbourne Cups came out, Even Stevens was still very unknown and as such was handicapped with 48kg in the Caulfield Cup and 48.5kg in the Melbourne Cup. Now the trainer knew that if Even Stevens was to win the Caulfield Cup, he could only be penalised 5kg for the Melbourne Cup, which would give him 53.5kg, a weight that the connections knew he would win with. So part two of the plan was complete. Now all that had to be done was to get the money on the Cups double without raising too much attention, and making sure Even Stevens qualified for the Cups.

So the connections got their money on the double. Because Even Stevens was an unknown horse who was not qualified for either Cup, you can imagine the price of the Cups double! It is said that the connections got 1000/1 about the Cups double. At the time bookmakers were thinking it was like picking money up off the ground. After all, this horse had been easily beaten at NZ picnic meetings!

So now we arrive at Thousand Guineas day, three days before the Caulfield Cup and Even Stevens has gained a start in a 1600m race. The winner of this race in the past had been given a start in the Caulfield Cup so Even Stevens desperately needed to win as to keep the plan alive. Well Even Stevens won and in the process broke the track record winning by 4 lengths. He was granted a start in the Caulfield Cup and the bookies started to get a little nervous.

Because of the weight of money that was already on the double, Even Stevens jumped as the 6/1 second favourite in the Caulfield Cup. Remember he had just 48kg in this race. He won by five lengths, was installed the short price Melbourne Cup favourite and bookies Australia wide were now a 2/1 chance to go broke! Because of the ease of the victory, Even Stevens was penalised the full 5kg, but that only gave him 53.5kg. He was a weighted certainty, and the owners plan, a year in the making was about to come off.

The Melbourne Cup was another easy 5 lengths win. Bookies went broke, the connections made, what today would be probably 10 million. A lot of old timers will tell you that Even Stevens was the best weighted horse in Melbourne Cup history.  He was a weighted certainty.

1. Makybe Diva 58kg 2005.

For having won two Melbourne Cups, a Cox Plate, an Australia Cup, a Turnbull and a stack of other top level races, Makybe Diva was given 58kg for the 2005 Melbourne Cup. This is not a narrow victory in the weighted certainties stakes; this is a ten lengths win. Makybe Diva in 2005 is easily the best weighted horse in the history of the Melbourne Cup. An absolute weighted certainty, but the press at the time led us to believe that the 58kg might stop her. As such we got 7/2 ($4.50)! It was like picking money up off the ground. It was criminal. It was not fair to the bookies! Wakeful, the other best staying mare in Australian history, for having won several mares class races and several open handicaps, but never a Melbourne Cup, was given 10.0 (63.5kg) for her Cup attempt. That is 5.5kg more than the Diva for having won two less Melbourne Cups! How can this possibly be the case? Light Fingers after winning one Melbourne Cup was asked to carry 9.1 (58kg) in her Cup defence while tackling Galilee. That is the same weight as the Diva for having won half as many Melbourne Cups. This is just astounding!

Perhaps the best evidence is the fact that for winning one Melbourne Cup, Makybe Diva went up 4.5kg while competing against Europe’s best stayer, Vinnie Roe in her second Cup. But for winning two Cups plus all those other races she only went up 2.5kg while competing (in her third Cup). She was an absolute weighted certainty and in the form of her life, she simply could not lose.

So there we go…

5. Phar Lap

4. Peter Pan

3. Let’s Elope

2. Even Stevens

1. Makybe Diva

By Zeb Armstrong


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