Racing Victoria Plots Melbourne Cup Betting Changes

Written by:
Don Shapiro
Published on:

Racing Victoria is aiming to push through several changes designed to make the annual Melbourne Cup Carnival more lucrative for the betting industry.

Turnover on this year’s meeting fell to $665 million, a sizable 15 percent decrease from the 2022 figures. However, the turnover represented a 5% increase on pre-COVID-10 levels.

Bookmakers were actually more profitable as several fancied horses were beaten during the four-day event, softening the blow on Racing Victoria’s revenue.

However, the governing body is attempting to take proactive steps to ensure turnover increases in 2024 by changing Derby Day and Champions Day into 10-race cards.

Racing Victoria also want to move the Archer Stakes from Derby Day to earlier in the calendar, to allow punters more time to wager on the Melbourne Cup ante-post market.

The race is the final golden ticket into the Melbourne Cup, but its position in the schedule means the barrier draw is conducted around two days before the main event.

This has a significant impact on turnover, particularly on Australian betting sites which publish ante-post odds on the race months in advance despite not having the barrier draw information.

With Racing Victoria paying out more in prize money during the financial year, the decline in wagering revenue has effectively left the organisation in a break-even position.

New initiatives to return to a profitable status will be crucial to the future of racing in the state and these include the proposed expansion of the cards on the two Saturdays in Cup week.

Saturday is traditionally the biggest punting day of the week throughout the year, and its impact is accentuated whenever top-class meetings are staged.

Racing Victoria has run 10-race Saturday cards since the start of August, but Victoria Racing Club (VRC) continued with nine-race cards for Derby Day and Champions Day.

Other changes to the programme have already been implemented, but Racing Victoria is eager to push through more to ensure the future sustainability of the sport.

However, VRC chief executive Steve Rosich is unconvinced that extending the cards on the two Saturdays either side of the Melbourne Cup programme is the answer.

“The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) is aware that Racing Victoria has discussed interim and incomplete wagering data for the Melbourne Cup Carnival,” Rosich said. “The VRC will provide a full picture of domestic and international wagering results when they are available.

“With respect to the Melbourne Cup Carnival race program, this is carefully considered by the VRC to maintain the carnival’s world-class status. The annual review process will commence shortly and it is premature to discuss any possible changes.”

While overall betting turnover during the Melbourne Cup Carnival was down, several eye-catching wagers contributed to the still sizeable turnover.

The iconic Melbourne Cup Call of the Card - an event where high-rollers place massive bets with the bookies – produced a series of staggering wagers.

These included bets of $22,500 and $20,000 on the eventual winner Without A Fight at odds of 7.50, thus securing payouts of $168,750 and $150,000 for the lucky punters.

Several other five-figure bets were also placed on the winner, including a whopping $80,000 wager. The resulting $600,000 payout left the bettor laughing all the way to the bank.

Melbourne Cup bettors did not have things all their way at Call of the Card, with one professional punter left $320,000 poorer after favourite Vauban finished 14th in the race.

The Willie Mullins-trained stayer was in contention heading around the final bend, but eventually faded out of contention under jockey Ryan Moore.

Two other bets of $230,000 and $200,000 were also placed on Vauban, while another five bets on the horse totaling $155,000 went up in smoke.

Another punter was left cursing Vauban after placing a $1,000 five-fold during September. The bet got off to a winning start when Imperatriz won the Moir Stakes at the end of the month.

Collingwood (AFL Grand Final), Ace Impact (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe) and Without A Fight (Caulfield Cup) all delivered the goods, leaving the punter sweating on Vauban in the Melbourne Cup.

A cool $989,120 payout was on the cards if Vauban emerged victorious, but the horse proved to be a major disappointment to leave the punter empty-handed.

- Don Shapiro,

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