On the weekend preceding the Melbourne Cup, Flemington has one of the largest meetings of the spring carnival.
The meeting is often referred to simply as Derby Day, where there are four Group 1, two Group 2 and three Group three races.
The biggest race of the day, the one behind the meeting being known as Derby Day, is the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500 m 3YO set weights).
The Victoria Derby currently offers prizemoney of $2 million, with about 1.2 million of that total going to the winner. Even third place carries $180,000, so it is obvious that the race attracts the best horses.
The race was first run in 1855, predating the Melbourne Cup by six years.
Some of the biggest names in Australian Thoroughbred racing have won The Derby, Phar Lap and Tulloch among them. It has become sort of a three-year-old graveyard in recent years, as the last horse to win and go on to further significant success was Preferment in 2014.
Picking the outright winner of the Victoria Derby is a challenge in two regards. The first of these is that the field can be up to 16 and a large field always presents a tricky proposition. The other is that many three-year-olds have a limited number of starts, so there is little in the way of form to guide selections.
Other than those two reasons, betting on the Victoria Derby is just like betting on any horse race.
The best guide is to look at the odds on one of the online bookmakers’ websites. The horse with the lowest price is the favourite and has the best chance of winning, but for 2018, the top-three in pre-race markets did not produce one top-three finisher.
Racing Punters Take Risks
Racing punters are typically more willing to take on risk than are those who prefer sports punts, but they find ways to spread the risk around with a variety of bet types.
One thing punters having a plunge on the Victoria Derby use to advantage is that the online bookmakers will pay dividends based on the best odds of the three Totes.
For the punter who does not wish to spend a lot of time looking for a selection, but does not want to bet a short-priced favourite, one route they can take is to look at the quotes of a horse as the race approaches. As money comes on, some of it least from the ranks of the highly knowledgeable, a horse that has shortened since the markets went up might represent a good value. Conversely, a horse that has drifted longer may be an alert to avoid that horse.
Fixed Odds Win and Place bets are easy to pick. Those with a more conservative outlook might back a runner Each Way, where a dividend is derived in the selection runs first or second.
From there, it is possible to bet on more than one horse in a race and the bookies offer punts with two, three, four and five horses, either in the exact order of finish or to finish in any order.
A big race such as the Victoria Derby will find the bookmakers offering plenty or promotions that offer an additional edge to the punter, and for a large field, any help is help that is welcome.