Melbourne Cup 2020

Melbourne Cup 2020

Time flies doesn’t it! Australia’s most highly anticipated thoroughbred race the Melbourne Cup is now just around the corner, on 3rd November, and once again an eager public will be tuned in to watch in their millions both at home and abroad. In such a tough year due to the coronavirus, it’s both a relief and an escape that we get to lose ourselves in a moment of sporting excellence. At 3pm (EDST) it will be time to cheer on your selection and soak in that famous Melbourne Cup atmoshere brought to as as per usual at the Flemington race course in Melbourne, Australia.

With history stretching back one and a half centuries and the some, where have certainly been no shortage of notewrothy and pivital moments during the Melbourne Cup over the years. From Archer becoming the first horse to win the Cup twice way back in 1861, to over a hundred years later when the course length was changed slightly in length, all the way to the modern day where in 2015 Michelle Payne became the first woman to win the Melbourne Cup (on Prince of Penzance at massive odds of 100-1). It would’ve been nice to have had a wager on that one.

Fast forwardng to the present, the 2020 race features a who’s who of horse racing talent, in terms of equine and human alike. And who can blame the best of the best all making a beeline for a race that brings with it such lucrative reward and just as importantly the rare opportunity to cement their name and place in Australian racing history. Current favourite to win this prestigious race in 2020 is Irish horse Tiger Moth at a relatively short 11/2, he’s just coming off a convincing win in the Group 3 Kilternan Stakes. Hot on his heels there are a whole slew of contenders, with Sir Dragonet at 7-1, Anthony Van Dyck at 8-1, Surprise Baby at 9-1 and Russian Camelot at 12-1. If outsiders are more your thing, a punt on Ashrun at a generous 25-1 might be the bet for you.

Hopefully a summary of those in with a shot creates a bit of excitement in the run-up to the race. With sport off the national agenda in a meaningful way for a time, it will be pleasing to turn on the TV and let the racing do the talking. Whether you’re having a fun bet, are taking a more analytical approach or will simply be soaking in the competitive action without opening your wallet, do enjoy the race!

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Ghaiyyath Hailed by jockey William Buick as ‘the best I’ve ridden, without a doubt’, Ghaiyyath was retired from racing after finishing a close second in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in September, 2020, as the second highest-rated Flat horse in Europe, according to Timeform. He earned a Timeform rating of 133 when comfortably beating Enable by 2¼ lengths in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in July and recorded one of the performances of the season when, once again, making all the running to Magical by 3 lengths in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York the following month.

All told, Ghaiyyath won nine of his 13 races, finished outside the first three just once – on ‘very soft’ going in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in 2019 – and amassed just shy of £880,00 in win and place prize money. Aside from the Coral-Eclipse and the Juddmonte International Stakes, he also won the Coronation Cup at Newmarket on his seasonal reappearance in 2020, beating 2019 Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck by 2½ lengths and breaking the course record in the process.

Originally, the plan was to bid for a fifth success at Group One, or Grade One, level in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Keeneland, Kentucky in November, 2020. However, Ghaiyyath was reported to be sore following a routine piece of work at home, on the gallops of Moulton Paddocks, Newmarket and connections took the decision to retire him to Kildangan Stud in Co. Kildare, Ireland. Trainer Charlie Appleby said of the five-year-old, ‘It is obviously disappointing not to be taking him to the Breeders’ Cup, but the exertions of a long season, which started in Dubai in January, were starting to show…’

Frankie Dettori

Frankie Dettori Introduction

The kind of name that even those who dislike horse racing will know, Frankie Dettori is a true legend of the sport. Born on 15th December, 1970, the Milanese jockey has set the precedent and the standard for decades to come. A consummate professional, Dettori has been the Champion Jockey on three separate occasions and has been involved in more than 500 Group Race wins.

Career Summary

Someone as decorated as Dettori would be hard to do justice to. With over 110 wins across a stellar career, some of his major wins include the 1,000 Guineas 3 times, the 2,000 Guineas twice and the Ascot Gold Cup an incredible five times. Add in a Derby win in 2007, and it’s very easy to see why Dettori is so revered across the board.

An incredible competitor, his careers honours list would fill a screen. His sheer variety of steeds which he has won on, too, showcases a rider who can be in tune with any horse he embarks on.

Achievements & Highlights

Although his achievements are so many it would be hard to find one in particular to fall in love with, Dettori rode all seven of the winners on the British Champions’ Day at Ascot, in 1996. Such incredible achievements surely rank him as one of the most consistent and impressive names within the sport. Although Dettori has had his own personal problems over the years, including a substance-related ban in 2012, he returned to be named the World’s Best Jockey in 2015. Such redemption is merely part of the character of one of the most revered names not just in racing, but in sport.

Major Wins – Derby (2007), 1,000 Guineas (1998, 2002, 2011) 2,000 Guineas (1996, 1999), St Leger: (1995, 1996, 2005, 2006, 2008), Ascot Gold Cup (1992, 1993, 1998, 2004, 2012)

Associations – Godolphin Racing. Golden Horn, Trêve, Grandera, Singspiel, Daylami, Swain, Balanchine, Wilko, Raven’s Pass, Electrocutionist, Dubai Millennium, Joshua Tree, Cape Verdi and more.

Earnings – $18m total earnings.

We’re Not Worthy: How to Identify False Favourites

We’re Not Worthy: How to Identify False Favourites As a general rule of thumb, approximately one third (33%) of the horse races run in Britain are won by the starting price favourite. In other words, approximately two thirds (67%) of starting price favourites lose, which is good news for anyone looking to profit from laying favourites. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because favourites start at short odds and lose two out of every three races, on average, you can make a profit simply by blindly laying the favourite in every race. You can’t.


Some favourites are overrated by the betting public and some are underrated, so what lay punters need is a methodology that allows them to determine which favourites are worthy of their position at the head of the market and which are not.


The majority of horse races are won by horses with good recent form, running in their normal sphere, against limited opposition, while at, or approaching, their peak. If, having analysed its form, you discover that the favourite in any race has profile that doesn’t match these criteria, for whatever reason, it may represent a lay betting opportunity.


Of course, there are many different reasons why a favourite may, in fact, be a “false” favourite, so perhaps the best thing to do at this point is to have a look at a real race and see what we can make of the favourite’s chance. The race that I’ve chosen, more or less at random, is the Royal Regiment Sussex Stakes (4.40) at Goodwood on Tuesday, September 3, the racecard for which is shown below.


I say more or less at random because I’ve deliberately chosen a handicap – so that all the runners, theoretically, have an equal chance – and, moreover, in which all the runners have thoroughly exposed form.


According to the betting forecast, William Haggas’ three-year-old Argent Knight is favourite and, at first glance, it’s not difficult to see why. Argent Knight has a progressive profile, having won his last two races, including over today’s distance of two miles at Newmarket 24 days ago, and acts on the prevailing good to firm going.


However, closer inspection of his form reveals that he’s 5lb worse off for 1½ lengths with Waterclock on their running at Newmarket, so he’s not guaranteed to confirm the form. Looking slightly further back, the horse that he beat by a neck at Sandown on his penultimate start has since finished last of four, beaten 6¼ lengths, in a lower grade handicap at Nottingham, so the form may not be as strong as it first appeared. He’s 8lb higher in the weights in a better race and has recorded all three career wins on galloping or testing courses, whereas Goodwood is fairly sharp.


Of course, the chance of any favourite can only be assessed relative to the other horses in the race so, before considering laying the favourite, you should identify at least two other horses that you confidently expect to beat the favourite. Subject to finding two such horses in this race, Argent Knight has enough doubts about him to suggest that he may, indeed, represent a lay betting opportunity at his forecast odds of 3/1.


Roger Charlton’s lightly raced four-year-old Waterclock has shown improved form since stepping up to two miles on his last two starts and is an obvious danger to the favourite, particularly with his 5lb pull in the weights. So, too, are Mutual Regard and Broxbourne, who both have proven form over two miles at this level and Arch Villain, who’s 10lb better off for 6 lengths with Argent Knight and 5lb better off for 4½ lengths with Waterclock on their running at Newmarket. Stuart Williams’ 4-year-old Aquilonius is more exposed than most of the others, but his one attempt over two miles, on a similarly sharp track, at Lingfield yielded a convincing win. Diomed in the Racing Post suggests that he was allowed to steal that race but, as one of just four distance winners in the field, it may be dangerous to underestimate him.


In summary, there are at least five horses in the race, besides Argent Knight, that have demonstrated, recently, that they are capable of winning a race of this nature. In other words, Argent Knight, who is 3/1 favourite according to the betting forecast, should realistically be double that price and represents excellent value as a lay bet.


For the purposes of this exercise, the result of the race was unsatisfactory, not because Argent Knight won, but because he ran no race at all, losing his place with three furlongs to run and weakening to finish last of the nine runners. Aquilonius made all the running, as he had at Lingfield, and stayed on well to beat Mutual Regard by 2¼ lengths with Arch Villain and Waterclock close up in third and fourth.


In any case, I hope this example has surveyed to illustrate some of the principles involved in identify weak or false favourites. To recap:


Analyse the form of the favourite, paying close attention to any disparity in class, distance, going, weight, etc compared with its previous races that may adversely affect its performance. If no disparities exist or, in other words, the favourite has no apparent weaknesses, the race is probably one to leave alone.


Take note of any good fortune that the favourite has experienced in its previous races, such as being allowed a “soft” lead, or being left in the lead by another horse falling, unseating its rider or running out.


Analyse the form of the main market rivals to the favourite – the next three or four in the betting market is usually sufficient – in the same way, looking for concrete evidence that at least two of them can beat the favourite. If you can’t identify two such rivals, again the race is probably one to leave alone.


Analysing form takes time and practice, so don’t lose heart if your analysis is a little wide of the mark to start with. If you want to sharpen up your skills without risking your hard-earned cash, try analysing a few races on paper only to see if you can spot favourites that aren’t worth their salt. You may miss a few profitable lay betting opportunities along the way, but the experience will stand you in good stead for the future.