The Melbourne Cup may be a horse race in Victoria’s capital, but Cup day is the busiest day of the year for Queensland’s TAB outlets. UNiTAB computers process 35,000 bets a minute.
During the 2006 Melbourne Cup, UNiTAB recorded a total of 7.5 million hits on its website, with the busiest period near 1.15pm, 45 minutes before the race.
Shane Adams, general manager of Race Day Operations at UNiTAB, says Australians bet $145 million at TAB outlets during last year’s Melbourne Cup race, wagering $250 million during the entire day.
TAB is forecasting improved figures from last year, given good conditions and no horses being scratched, despite the equine influenza crisis.
There are five foreign horses running in this year’s Cup, less than half the usual number. Matthew Tripp, CEO of Sportsbet.com.au, says this poor showing has “no bearing whatsoever” on the number of people gambling on the race – he expects 120,000 to 150,000 hits on his website.
Today’s race is a big step for women, with and two female jockeys and the first runner to be both ridden and trained by women, Dolphin Jo. Never to let an opportunity slip, Sportsbet is running a special “girl power” betting option on Sculptor and Dolphin Jo, ridden by Lisa Cropp and Clare Lindop respectively.
And now some things about the Melbourne Cup that you will probably not be thinking about when you sip your glass of champers at race time:
Today’s best-backed runner at Sportingbet Australia is favourite Master O’Reilly, at 1:1, with Purple Moon a close second at 1:18.
The main race is worth $3 million to horse owners along with a trophy valued at $100,000.
Tripp says Zipping, Princess Coup and Mahler have an outside chance of winning.
In 2005-06, racing was the second most popular sport after AFL in Victoria, with 542,900 attendees, according to the Bureau of Statistics.
After the Cup fever, you can ease back into non-gambling life by placing your bets on the 2007 Australian federal election. Commentary by past PM Bob Hawke on Sportsbet.com.au can guide your hand.