Beginners Guide:
How to bet on the Melbourne Cup

Just like extravagant headwear and colourful outfits, betting is a staple you're sure to find within the gates of Flemington. As you prepare for the Melbourne Cup Carnival, here are the basics of having a bet at the race that stops the nation.

Placing a bet on the Melbourne Cup is easy. Winning on the other hand, that’s another story. For betting newbies or those who haven’t put money down at the track before, we have listed the key steps to make your wagering experience as painless as possible.

1. The race’s number (i.e., the first race of the day would be “Race Number One”).
2. The type of bet you would like to make. Here you’ll use betting terminology like Win, Place, Each Way, etc (see list below).
3. The dollar amount of your wager.
4. The number of the horse in the race. While it’s tempting to use a horse’s name, it’s more common to use the horse’s number when placing a bet.

For example, you could go up to the bookmaker and say: “Race 4, $10 to win on #5, please.”

If you’re looking for inspiration on picking a winner, there is unfortunately no blueprint for that… but best of luck!
It doesn’t matter which track of race you’re looking at, the following types of bets will apply in Australia.

WIN: A win bet is the method of selecting a horse to finish overall first in a particular race. This is the most popular wager in horse racing.

PLACE: A place bet offers lower odds than a win bet, but gives investors three possible chances to get the money. The place bet pays out on any horse that runs first, second or third, but if your horse is the winner of the race, you only get the place money – not the money you would get for a win. If there are less than 8 horses in the race, place bets only count for first or second place.

EACH WAY: The each way bet is essentially a win and a place bet together on the one bet slip. An each way bet is having money on both the win and the place (always the same amount) and is typically placed to ‘cover your bases’ and is especially prevalent in the bigger races where there are many winning chances. Because an each way bet is two bets in one (win and place), “$10 each way” would cost $20 to place.

QUINELLA: Quinella betting is picking the horses that will finish first and second in the race in any order. A quinella typically pays much more than just the simple win bet, and you can select multiple horses to finish in the top-two positions, however, this does affect the overall amount that you win.

EXACTA: The exacta bet is similar to the quinella bet in that to have a winning dividend; you need to pick the first two horses in the race. Where it differs from a quinella though, is that the exacta has to place the horses in the exact order in which they finish – hence the name.

TRIFECTA: To make a successful trifecta bet, investors must select the first three horses in the race in order. A boxed trifecta is when you select three or more horses to finish in the top three places, but in any order. Each additional horse you add to a boxed trifecta diminishes your overall dividend percentage.

FIRST FOUR: The first four bet requires you to select four horses in the race that you believe will finish first, second, third and fourth in order. The boxed bet applies here too, where you can select a number of horses to finish in any order, but obviously the more horses you add the lower your return will be.
Some may argue that it is impossible to really understand the odds, however it is pretty simply to understand how they impact your potential winnings. In Australia, horse odds are displayed as dollar figures for the win and the place. See example below.
In this example, you would receive $5 for every $1 you bet on the win, and $2 to everyone $1 you bet on the place.

So if you bet $10 to win and the horse wins, you collect $50.

If you put $10 on the place and the horse comes first, second or third, you collect $20.

And if you bet $10 “each way”, your bet would cost $20 in total and you would collect $70 if the horse wins ($50 for the win and $20 for the place), or just $20 if your horse comes second or third.

Confused? Don’t be. Your bet slip will include a figure for potential winnings!

To help you fit in, these are just some of the many terms you might hear in the betting ring or around the track.

On the nose: Another way of describing a win bet.

Roughie: A horse that has high odds and is therefore considered less likely to win.

Missed the jump: A horse that doesn’t leave the starting gets well.

Boxed in: When a horse is stuck running against the fence as the surrounding horses are blocking its path.

Bookie: Short for Bookmaker, the person licensed to conduct betting at the course.

Furlong: A measurement of distance used predominantly in horse racing that equals 1/8 of a mile, or approximately 201 metres.

Filly: A female horse 3-years-old or under.

Colt: A male horse 3 years and under and has not been gelded.

Mare: Adult female horse 4YO’s or older.

Fluctuation: The movements of the odds of a runner moving up or down in the betting ring.

Maiden: A horse who has not won a race.

Scratched: To be taken out of the race.

Plunge: A sudden rush of money for a particular horse that causes the odds to drop quickly.

Quaddie: A exotic type of bet where you’re trying to pick the winner from the last 4 races of the day.

While it is somewhat of a tradition to enjoy a punt while at the races, it is always important to gamble responsibly and only bet within your limits. If it stops being fun, that’s a good time to stop betting!