Five Times a Massive Outsider Won The Melbourne Cup

Five Times a Massive Outsider Won The Melbourne Cup
More than 100,000 punters watched agog as Prince of Penzance defied odds of 100/1 to win the biggest race of the year in 2015. Fame Game, Trip To Paris and Red Cadeaux were the heavily backed favourites and widely tipped to battle it out for Melbourne Cup glory, while Prince of Penzance was considered a mere also-ran. He had never secured a top class victory, but delivered on the big day in devastating fashion. The sport had not seen the likes of it for decades, and it gives hope to anyone dreaming of a huge win at massive odds in the race that stops a nation. Here are five massive outsiders that have upset the odds and seized the Melbourne Cup:
The Pearl, 1871
The Melbourne Cup began life in 1861, when Archer outstripped his rivals by six lengths and claimed a prize of £710 and a gold watch for his owner. The race had to wait a decade for its first 100/1 ($101) winner, The Pearl, who battled to an unlikely victory in 1871. Owner and trainer John Trait had two runners in the race, Phyrrus and The Pearl, and placed a bet on Phyrrus thanks to his strong form heading into the contest. Jockey J Cavanagh said Trait was “so sweet on Phyrrus” that he led the stable to believe no runner in the race could touch that horse, and he was disappointed not to be given the mount. But instead he went aboard The Pearl and pulled off a win that even shocked the horse’s owner. There was a scrimmage at the halfway point, which The Pearl avoided, and took a lead of two lengths, which he never relinquished, winning 1,110 gold sovereigns.

Wotan, 1936

We had to wait 65 years for another $101 horse to win the Melbourne Cup, when Wotan delivered a hammer blow to punters across the nation. “The calculations of thousands of backers were upset yesterday when the 100 to 1 chance, Wotan, won the Melbourne Cup at Flemington racecourse,” reported the West Australian the following morning. “The result was one of the most surprising ever recorded in the history of the race.” Not only did Wotan win, he set an Australasian record for the fastest ever two-mile race finishing time. He only won three wins in his entire career, and one came in the biggest race in the world, showing that anything can happen in the Melbourne Cup.

Old Rowley, 1940
Old Rowley was described by his first trainer, Bayley Payten, as “the slowest two-year-old I’ve ever had in my stables”. He was so cumbersome that Payten would invite his friends round to point and laugh at him as he lolloped around the paddock. But Old Rowley had the last laugh after transferring to the stable of Jack Scully, as he went on to win the most famous race of all. It was a remarkable renewal in 1940 because criminals broke into the stables in a bid to take out favourite Beau Vite. The bungling criminals got the wrong horse, however, and shot sprinter El Golea in each hind leg instead. The unscathed Beau Vite, that year’s Cox Plate Champion, went off as 7/4 favourite ($2.75), but turned out to be no match for Old Rowley, who prevailed by three-quarters of a length. You could call him a late bloomer, and Payten must have been shaking his head in disbelief.
Rimfire, 1948
There have been many fairy-tale victories during the 15 decades of the Melbourne Cup, but it is hard to top the remarkable feat achieved by Ray Neville. He was just 15 years old and only had eight previous races under his belt when he climbed aboard 80/1 no-hoper Rimfire in the 1948 renewal of the race that stops a nation. W. A. Smith, scheduled to ride Rimfire, must have regretted his decision to switch mounts the day before the race, as that allowed Neville to step in and claim glory. Trainer Stan Boydon did not tell Neville he would be riding in the Melbourne Cup to ensure the boy got a good night’s sleep and the strategy paid off as he delivered a rousing victory.
Prince of Penzance, 2015
Huge outsiders winning the Melbourne Cup had become a thing of the past by the time we reached 2015, when the most common winning price was $10. That makes Prince of Penzance’s feat all the more amazing. Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to ever win the race and later said chauvinists in the sport can “get stuffed”. She delivered a beautiful ride, ensuring Prince of Penzance burst out of midfield to gain the initiative with 100m to go. Frankie Detorri and Max Dynamite gave pursuit in a thrilling final furlong, but Prince of Penzance held on to win by a half-length and spark disbelief among punters.

Will we get another big priced winner at the Melbourne Cup 2018? Only time will tell, but be sure to check out all the latest Melbourne Cup odds at Oddschecker before the big race in November.

Commander Han Wins at Chelmsford for Kevin Ryan

Just checking through today's racing results. A routine that many punters do at the end of the day. 


I notice a horse I mentioned a number of times won well in the 1:30 Chelmsford. I imagine a good few punters were interested in Commander Han, trained by Kevin Ryan.  This son of Siyouni cost 400,000G when purchased at two, considerable more than his yearling price tag of 62,000 euros. Those are familiar with the exceptional Group Horse (which details the best two-year-old race horses in training) would have been particularly intrigued after this chestnut colt had proved rather disappointing on his first two starts. Racing in the familiar silks of T A  Rahman, this March foal had cleverly been showing up well on the gallops. 

He was set a challenge on debut at York, when contesting the Convivial Maiden Stakes with win prize money of £43,575. Let's face it, how many maiden races are worth more than Group class? An indicator for all those who raced on that occasion. Backed from 16-1 - 9-1, there was some confidence behind this horse but he was far too inexperienced to do himself justice and finished 9th. I felt a bit of a fool because I had detailed this colt before he had been entered and seeing him make the line up in such a stiff race made me think this is going to be one of those days. 

Second start at Redcar, another head-in-hands moment. Even money in an eleven-strong field. Thinking this should be child's play but questioning at 1/1 if it is another opportunity to look like a man with egg on his face as well as hands over eyes. An awkward start, keen, no progress 2f out, then running on too late losing by less than a couple of lengths. Frustrating. 

Sometimes, horses need a bit of time to mature and learn what racing is all about. It took me 10 years of going to school to realise I was there to learn.

So, Commander Han wins on the 9th February, in a five-runner race over 7f. It was an ''easy'' 7-length victory. To be fair, the betting suggested there was one horse in opposition, Nice Shot, trained by David Simcock, the 8-13f. Perhaps the favourite disappointed and it was a breeze. 

I suspect that Commander Han will shine a bit brighter this three-year-old season and worth keeping in mind. 

Should I Follow the Money When Betting?

Betting Market Moves
Did you see that well-backed horse - hosed up!

How many times have you seen a horse backed off the boards win? When you flick through the results they all seem to win. But is that really the case? I don't know many different areas of horse racing, but I do understand two-year-old horse racing to a very high standard. After studying this niche for over 30-years, I can speak with some authority. However, in truth, the only way to make an objective assessment is to run a statistical test on the data to see if it is significant.

Data has power and limitation. 

I have little doubt following money within two-year-old racing is worthy of note from a trainer perspective. I have run studies on all juvenile trainer debut runners and horses making their second start. A good few trainers are very consistent and this is backed up by regular profits.I don't want to detail any specific names because this information is hard to find. It is similar to following the seam of gold and hope it leads to a major find. 

What I would say, is that two-year-old horse trainers have a much better strike rate on their second start compared with debut. Hardly surprising, hey? Although a couple of trainers feature just about as good results on both starts. This proves how fit some trainers get their horses. It is important to understand the intent of owners and trainers. If they don't want to win on debut they are very unlikely to do so.  

Interestingly, the betting is very important for most horses racing on their second start. In fact, I would suggest that a small drift from one price to the next can be the difference between winning and losing. Anything can happen in racing. Even the biggest, most powerful stables, can win a 50/1. Simply because they prove a surprise package or the opposition are poor or a favourite disappoints. 

In general, the betting of most two-year-old horses is significant. Smaller trainers can get lucky and have a real star in their stable but even these are usually known as a talent before the start of the race. They are backed. 

Psychology can improve your betting performance

Psychology: the study of behaviour and mind. To many, this offshoot of philosophy is akin to witchcraft. Others, it is just common sense. While for the majority: ''mumbo jumbo''. 

The strange thing about psychology is that we know it works. There have been studies which show when you walk into a supermarket, we walk so many paces before stopping, turning, and look around. You've probably done it a thousand times and never thought about it. It's walking, you stopped, so what! 

That's why someone had the brainwave of making sure the isles, offers or security guard (joke) are seemingly waiting at the right place to get you to buy. 

It begs the question, how many other things work like that? It is worrying to some extent as you may find yourself buying things, saying yes to someone who five minutes ago gave you a free pen, or liking someone or something that in ways always repulsed you before. You just put it down to being Friday! 

The power of psychology. Neuromarketing. Mumbo jumbo. 

Have you ever watched a TV advert and thought 'what's that all about'. McDonald's with its catchy whistle. Tapping into all those difference senses so you when you want a burger, you find yourself in their queue ''Cheeseburger, please!''. 

You robot! 

I guess we are a little fearful of the unknown. What's happening to me? I went to the shops to buy a packet of sweets and returned with a vacuum cleaner.

What are those bookmakers are doing with all this witchcraft? 

If you open a new account, we will give you 10/1 that Chelsea beat Whatever United! I see it somewhere else 5/4. 

But what about all those subtle things. You go in the bookies and someone asks if you want a cup of tea. Milk. Sugar. (How much did that cost me?)

I studied psychology and gained a degree a number of years ago. Social psychology is intriguing because it finds ways of tapping into the human condition to get you buying. Why is one salesman so much better than the rest of the team? If you studied this person you would identify how and why.

But how does this all related to an individual like you or me making psychology work for us to be a better gambler or win more money?

The key to finding winners is , in many ways, watching, taking note, and understanding winners. For instance, one aspect which often reveals bigger odds (value) is the contrast theory. Basically, if one horse beats another, many punters, bookmakers, layers will fancy the same result if they oppose each other at a later date. I know there may be changing variables such as weight, going, distance etc. However, it has been proven that people often assess the likelihood of the previous winner as having a greater chance of victory than it does. Meaning that the favourite is often under priced whereas the beaten horse is actually value at bigger odds.

Just stop for a moment, and consider how many other aspect of psychology could be at play when you bet. 

Horse Trainers: Why DOES My Horse Keep Losing

Horse trainer
Interesting headline. 

Most of us don't own a racehorse. However, we do like to bet and make an assessment to the given chance of a horse. When betting, it is important to have some measure of assessing whether a horse is likely to hit the jackpot. You fancy its chance and place a bet. How did it go?

Win, lose or stuck in the stalls, you take an interest and if you worked the oracle collected cash.

Betting on horses can be frustrating but imagine owning a horse. It is costly. You can buy  a horse quite cheaply but the training is a killer. Not only does the trainer collect training fees but they use their ''skills'' to place the horse to win. Well, that is how it should go. 

No one is perfect. Horses are not machines. They are all susceptible to many variants. As punter we know very little about the good, bad and ugly. Perhaps owners have a little more access because they pay the bills. I doubt many have too much input into the placing of horses which is understandable. Too many cooks and that. 

However, we have all seen times when horses are placed over a distance that doesn't look to suit, a change of tactics, or ridden wide to the point of being ridiculous and the horse tires out of contention. 

Is this simply a mistake, circumstance or is their a lack of knowledge?

Let's face it, trainers are busy. They have to manage lots of things, people, horses.They delegate, but they are responsible. I guess if you calculated the time it takes to get a horses ready to race it would be a surprising number of hours. All the admin, correspondence between owners, jockey, transport, declarations. The list goes on.

It makes me think that many trainers would benefit from an expert who could assess each horse and find the right race. When you consider how much it costs to get a horse to the race track, you really don't want to waste money. True, not ever horse can win. There's only one winner unless it is a dead heat. But would a trainer benefit from having an expert who places horses to win? It may well happen with trainers big and small. I imagine they wouldn't want to publish the fact because it could be viewed in varying ways. 

But would it help a trainer's win and place stats. 

Eric Winner studies sprint horses and the amount of times he questions the decisions of trainers does suggest that they often make wrong choices. Perhaps there is a hidden agenda, so it is actually the right decision (we will be unlikely to know). 

What do you think?  

Psychology of Slot Machines

Online Slots
The old-style fruit machines. 

Just a bit of fun. I doubt too many addicts would agree. However, the mentality of gamblers varies from one extreme to the other. Some bet and walk away, while others simply cannot stop pulling that one-armed bandit or pressing a flashing button until they are broke. 

Interesting how people vary so much. People do their own thing. Some, I guess, are more likely to be addicted to gambling or a certain type of gamble. When over 50% of the population bet, it is a worry for those who realise too late that a ''seemingly'' innocent pastime has cost them their home, marriage and life. 

Fruit machines are one of the most addictive forms of gambling. 

As a child, I used to go to Caister-on-sea for our annual holiday. Every September, missing the first week of the new school year because dad loved his racing at Great Yarmouth. Holidays were cheaper. I didn't like school so I would have opted for one long holiday fifty-two weeks a year. Anyway, the arcade on the holiday camp was ideal for two brothers who liked the look of the fruit machines. It was in the 1970s so we were talking pretty basic stuff. They even had a few of those old, chromed numbers with the Indian head, the class one-armed bandits which these days are collector's items and go for a few grand a piece. We were in our element. A pocket of twopences and motivated by the lights, noise of coins paying out willingly. The smell of hot dogs drifting in the air. Mum and dad listening to the entertainment. Dad with his brown and mild. Happy times. We played those machines with spirit. Not sure, thinking back, what was going through my mind. I guess it was the thought of winning. When you have a pound's worth of change in your pocket anything seems possible! 

Win or lose it didn't make any great difference. Basically, it was fun. I don't regret betting or my parents suggesting it was okay or acceptable. Like father like son. I will be forever proud of my dad.    

In some respects, betting from such an early age may have been a good thing. It brought a realisation that to win at gambling you need to have intelligence and discipline. By the time I was a teenager I was bored to death with fruit machines. I realised they were fixed odds, so long term you simply couldn't win. 

I hadn't played a slot machine in years but thought I'd have a bit of fun on Saturday evening. I use Betfair for betting horses on the exchange but they have everything on the website including online slots. 

I thought I'd bet a tenner. 

Slot machines are very different from the good, old days. But one thing that came to mind was the amount of psychological research which must go into making these games big money makers from casinos, bookmakers or whoever sets these businesses up.

They are made to keep you betting and they have cracked that aspect of betting without question.  

I won £200, so good luck favours the brave. Stopped playing and very much doubt I will be playing for a good few months.  

1966: A Year of Sporting Victories

What a year. 

Like the battle of Hastings in 1066, football fans will never forget the year when England won the World Cup 1966. 

As the quote goes: ''They think its all over...'' Kenneth Wolstenholme's commentary on BBC when England beat Germany 4 - 2. 

He said: And here comes Hurst! He's got...

Some people are on the pitch! They think it's all over!

Whatever your fancy, Sun Bets has lots of great offers.   

It is now, it's four!    

I get the feeling we will have to wait until 2066 to see another FIFA World Cup for our beloved football nation. 

Here is a quick summary of other sporting winners in this famous year.

Tennis: Wimbledon 20th June - 2nd July

Manuel Santana wins the men's final. While Billie Jean King wins the women's. 

Grand National 1966 - Aintree

Anlgo wins at odds of 50-1 for trainer Fred Winter, ridden by Tim Norman. A 20-length victory beating Freddie who was runner-up the year before. 

Gold Cup 1966 - Cheltenham 

Almost as well known as England winning the World Cup, equine star Arkle made this a historic Gold Cup winning for the third time in consecutive years. Tom Dreaper trained this amazing nine-year-old for the Dutchess Of Westminster, ridden by Pat Taaffe at odds of 1/10f. 

More Horse Racing 

Flat racing:

The English Triple Crown wasn't achieved. We had to wait until 1970 for Nijinsky to win the 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby and St Leger. He went on to win the Irish Derby just for good measure. 

Who won these races in 1966? 

2000 Guineas - Won by Kashmir trained by Mick Bartholomew, French-trained colt who showed class as two. 

Epsom Derby - Charlottown trained by Towzer Gosden. This bay colt won seven of his ten races but retire at four when disappointing in France. 

St Leger - Readers may remember this class horse - Sodium. This son of Psidium was trained by George Todd at Manton in Wiltshire. Sodium finished fourth behind Charlottown in the Epsom Derby and went on to win the Irish Dery in the same year.  

The Boat Race 1966

A long history of the battle of supremacy for Oxford and Cambridge University. The 112 boat race took place on the 26th  March 1966. A tight competition, Oxford won by three and quarter lengths. Cambridge won the women's race. 

1966 European Athletics Championship 

A couple of English victories of note:

Jim Hogan won the Marathon 2:20:04.06

Lynn Davies won the men's Long Jump 7.98 m  

The only two medals England achieved in these championships. 

July 17th saw American runner Jim Ryun set a new world record in the mile timed 3:51.3 

FA Cup 1966

Football fans enjoyed a battle between two tough sides in this final. Everton went on to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2. 

Boxing in 1966

29th March - Muhammed Ali defeats George Chuvalo in 15 rounds on a unanimous decision.

21st May - A fight few UK boxing fans will forget. Henry Cooper deserved to beat Muhammed Ali ( Cassius Clay) in their first fight in 1963 with a left hook in the final seconds. The fight was delayed when Ali's gloves had to be changed after a tear (which was later detailed as a deliberate act by his corner). Cooper was outfought and stopped in the 6th round by a technical knockout in 1966. 

Muhammed Ali had a busy year going on to defeat Brian London by knockout in the third round (6th August)

10th September Ali had a tough fight with Karl Mildenberger with a 12th round TKO. 

He concluded the year retaining his WBC heavyweight title knocking out Cleveland Williams in three rounds. 

What's your favourite sporting year?