2020 Caulfield Cup: Stats That Matter
The Caulfield Cup, considered part of the ‘Big 3’ in Victorian horse racing, is steeped in tradition and - in its own right - stands as one of the most sought-after races in all of Australia.
With a purse of $5 million, the Caulfield Cup is run over 2400m under handicap conditions, making it the highest-paying race of that distance, on turf, across the globe.
With the formalities of the day out of the way, the Caulfield Cup remains a lead-in to the Melbourne Cup, so while parts of the field will be primed and peaking for this as their target race of their campaign, keep in mind that others use it as preparation for the Melbourne Cup - so don’t be surprised to see a repeat of names on the first Tuesday of November.
The staying race attracts endurance runners from both Australia and overseas, giving it a level of prestige that rivals the Melbourne Cup, and depending on who you speak to, it perhaps even pips 'The Cup' given the blend of both Southern and Northern hemisphere horses.
Win the Caulfield Cup and you’ll earn entry to the coveted Melbourne Cup. Win the Cup's double, and well - you’ll join just 11 other impeccable equine athletes to have made the incredible feat since Rivette became the first in 1939.
However, don’t forget that taking place on the same day in Sydney is the world’s richest race for sprinters, and that’s The Everest.
SCHEDULE: Caulfield Cup & The Everest Day
CAULFIELD CUP PREPARATION
Two races, in particular, are often seen as form guides to the Caulfield Cup. The Group 1 Turnbull Stakesat Flemington and Group 1 Australian Oaks at Royal Randwick earlier in the Autumn. There’s been a little bit of interest in the Queensland Oaks, but the Turnbull still presents as one of the best inklings.
Of the horses to watch who fit that criteria, Chris Waller’s VERRY ELLEEGANT claimed her fifth G1 title by winning the Turnbull Stakes recently, while stablemates TOFFEE TONGUE and FINCHE rounded out a podium trifecta for the master trainer - all whom will feature on Caulfield Cup day.
RACE PRO: See the full Caulfield Cup field
Funnily enough, it was Toffee Tongue who won the Australian Oaks in April, backing it up with that effort in the Turnbull, and comes in at a very light weight on Saturday at just 51kgs.
It’s worthwhile noting that 11 of the past 36 runners have used the Turnbull Stakes as their final lead-in race. Mer De Glace bucked that trend last year having won first-up on Australian soil however had a string of winning form in Japan to lean on prior to the Caulfield Cup.
Pay special attention to ANTHONY VAN DYCK, who like Mer De Glace last year, is first-up here in Australia in the Caulfield Cup, but who’s UK form has undoubtedly been of superstar status. This is a horse who beat home Stradavarious in this years edition of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (The Arc) and commands serious respect, while the 2400m is his ideal trip.
QUICK VIEW FORM: Horses with a favourable run today
This one always carries its omens. Between 1984 - 2008, only eight of the 25 winners during that era won from double-digit barriers, however, in more recent times, seven of the past 11 winners have jumped from barrier 10 or wider - most notably last year’s winner Mer De Glace who jumped from barrier 18 to claim the 2019 Caulfield Cup. The year prior, Best Solution won it from barrier 15.
Often in racing, punters pour over the inside alleys, but history says this race wasn’t made for the inside position; in fact, barrier one hasn’t produced a Caulfield Cup winner since 1941!
The most successful barriers with eight wins apiece are barriers seven and nine, in which MASTER OF WINE (7) and BUCKHURST (9) will launch from respectively on Saturday afternoon.
Australian and Kiwi horses have done very well in this race previously, but the last two years have seen Best Solution (Ireland) and Mer de Glance (Japan) claim victory, pinching back-to-winners for the internationals.
Internationally-trained horses only began targeting this race in 1998 and since then have generated just six winners, however, they are strongly represented - the downside however is they often don’t have Australian lead-in form and come in first-up.
Since internationals have been banging down the door for the Caulfield Cup, there have been 21 editions of the racewhich has produced 15 Australian or Kiwi winners. This year there are just eight Australian and New Zealand runners with both nations carrying four hopes apiece.
It should come as no surprise that there are eight raiders from Great Britain, most of whom will feature on Melbourne Cup Day, along with five chances from the Emerald Isle and one from Germany.
THE TOP WEIGHTS
The ‘toppy’ has done remarkably well in this race since 1999, so they command respect. Best Solution won under 57.5kg in 2018 joining Admire Rakti (58kg), Viewed (57kg), Northerly (58kg) and Sky Heights (56.5kg) as horses who’ve saluted as the top-weight fancies in their respective years.
The top weight this year is Irish international Anthony Van Dyck who will carry 58.5kgs, and is joint $5.50 favourite (at time of writing) along with 55kg chance, Verry Elleegant. Should the former win, jumping from the 21st alley - he’ll become the heaviest in history to claim the Caulfield Cup.
55 AND YOU’RE ALIVE
History counts for both plenty and nothing depending on how superstitious you are. For me? The past has plenty to say. Once upon a time, specifically between the years 1984 - 2001, only two of the 18 winners carried 55kg or more.
Since then, eight of the 18 editions of the Caulfield Cup have been won by horses carrying a minimum of 55kg, including seven of the past eight.
Japanese horse Mer De Glace saluted last year carrying 55.5kgs, beating out the favourite Vow and Declare - who’d eventually go on to win the Melbourne Cup - and who was carrying 52.5kgs and finished second by a length.
Of the horses to be carrying a minimum of 55kgs this year are British raiders MUSTAJEER and MIRAGE DANCER, as well as Irish stayer Buckhurst. Godolphin star AVILIUS (57) as well as joint favourites Anthony Van Dyck (58.5) and the aforementioned VOW AND DECLARE (55) all meet the ‘55 and you’re alive’ criteria.
FOUR TO THE FLOOR
In this race, it’s the four-year-olds you want to be wary of, for they have the best winning record throughout Caulfield Cup history.
Of the last 142 runnings of the Caulfield Cup, 50 of those winners have been four-year-olds, accounting for a bit over a third of all winners during that period.
Respect must be shown to the five-year-olds who’ve contributed 43 winners over time, however, only seven of those have occurred in the last 35 years.
Representation of four-year-olds is strong this year, including WARNING, DALASAN and the pick of the four-year-olds for mine, Toffee Tongue who came second in the Turnbull Stakes (remember how Turnbull Stakes form can feature in the Caulfield Cup!).
Of the five-year-olds, there are plenty in this race, but none more impressive than Verry Elleegant who, as mentioned previously, was last seen winning the G1 Turnbull Stakes.
CAULFIELD CUP FAVOURITISM … OR NOT?
It’s six of one, half a dozen of the other for me. In 2015 and 2016 we saw back-to-back favourites win the Caulfield Cup with Mongolian Khan ($5) and Jameka ($4.20) saluting, however since 2008, a whopping nine winners have won at double-figure odds.
At the time of writing, Anthony Van Dyck and Verry Elleegant share favouritism at $5.50, followed by Master of Wine ($9) and Finche ($11) while rounding out the top-five is Buckhurst ($14).
Given this race has produced long-odds winners, Mustajeer is currently offering triple-digits, however if it rains, then it’ll suit the likes of Avilius ($31) and Vow and Declare ($41)
CHEAT SHEET: Today's value runners
THE OTHER RACES
Of the other big races on the day, the Etheral Stakes (2000m), Moonga Stakes (1400m) and the Caulfield Classic(2000m) all carry Group 3 status. The Tristarc Stakes (1400m) and the Group 2 Caulfield Sprint are also races which will garner interest outside of the feature event.
It's sure to be a massive day of racing, with the prestigious Caulfield Cup headlining the day as well as supplying another piece to this riveting Spring Carnival puzzle.
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