The Cup Day Quaddie

This punting caper has got me beat. How is it, that after actually backing the winner of the Melbourne Cup, I still feel like I lost?

My punting is usually dependent on receiving advice from people who know what they are doing. People who have knowledge of form and can properly analyse it and then apply it in betting strategy. And there is one other factor I depend on: looking for a 2-4.

I am probably miss-telling this story, but Herb Barlow was a Second World War veteran who spent a long-time post-war in repatriation and rehabilitation. With time on his hands, Herb spent a lot of that time analysing the horses. And he came up with the 2-4. A second two runs ago, followed by a fourth in the most recent run, is a good indicator that the win is about to follow. This punting wisdom was passed to me by Herb’s son Joe, and it is something I fall-back on regularly.

A quick scan of the Melbourne Cup form guide on Monday evening (I can never be described as a dedicated punter) and there is only one 2-4 on the entire program. And it is running in the cup. The odds are reasonable so even though the 2-4 should be followed by a win, I take Rekindling each-way. For $5. When you are not very good at this caper it is wise to bet frugally.

For the third year running our off-course Cup Day is hosted by Mark and Colleen, and our company is the usual mix of punters and semi-interested. The day is social and the food is magnificent. Fran is looking after a number of sweeps and doing a marvellous job. I suggest to Mark that we have a communal quaddie. He is happy to be part of it but doesn’t want to be the one to organise. I chase down another who I reckon could do the job. Michael is happy to make the selections if I do the recruitment. Entry fee? I suggest $20. Michael scoffs and says $50. It was my idea initially but if Michael is doing the hard work I have no problem accepting the terms and conditions and start building the finance. We eventually have 16 contributors for an $800 pool.

With the assistance of form provided by our host as well as his own knowledge, Michael produces the hand-written proposal: 5 horses in the cup leading into 6 horses in each of the other 3 legs. For the 1,080 combinations we would be entitled to 74% of the declared dividend. Michael invites suggestions and amendments from all the other punters present. Everyone accepts the numbers as offered. I hesitate. Number 22 is not one of the Cup selections. I have no confidence in my own abilities so remain silent.

You know the rest of this story. Our quaddie falls out in the first leg as Number 22 Rekindling wins the Cup. And naturally one of Michael’s selections wins each of the remaining three legs. Michael is shocked, and maybe even a touch angry when I relate that I actually backed the cup winner. That one extra selection in the first leg would have reduced our forecast share from 74 % to 62% of the dividend. But 62% of $19,859 is $12,258, or $766 per participant. Just slightly more than the 74% of zero that we actually collected.

I think it is possibly the first, perhaps second time in my life I have actually backed the cup winner. I finish the day with more money than I started. And I still lost.


About Andrew Fithall

Probably the most rational, level-headed Collingwood supporter in existence. Not a lot of competition mind you.


  1. AF – never heard of the 2/4 but I’ll look to implement it from now on. Remember the old Vietnamese saying:

    “Money not in pocket, not yours.”

    I was having a discussion with P. Flynn at the Almanac Cup eve lunch at the NFA on Monday. He asked me (or maybe I just told him) who I liked in the Gup. I said I liked Humidor, Big Duke, and Cismontane. He looked at me over the top of his pint of pale ale and said:

    “I’m not going to take any notice of your selections for one reason; you have no bloody idea what you’re talking about.”

    Tuns out he was right. His system is obviously to ignore the advice of Spring Carnival idiots.

  2. Oh dear, that’s a nasty punting story AF.

    Like Dips I have always been happy to be a Spring carnival idiot – albeit in the newspaper. I remember advocating the four duck eggs as a system i.e. form of 0000. I think one got up one time.

    An old one – and Crio might be able to verify – certainly in Queensland was x4. Any fourth after a spell, notwithstanding the general view on second up.

    But my favourite from the days when there were a dozen pundits tipping 1,2,3 in every race at a venue to produce a big table/grid was when a horse’s name appeared once, and only once, in the selections. It’s my favourite because the bloke who introduced me to it made good cash one weekend on a nag which he thought had one mention. Had the bet. Won the dosh. Only to have it pointed out to him in the staff room on Monday that it had actually been mentioned twice.

  3. Alistair Watson says

    It is hard to decide which is my favourite chapter in Gerald Murnane’s ‘Something for the pain: A memoir of the turf’. A lot of the time it is chapter 10, Form-Plan and Otto Fenichel, which discusses his early encounters with betting systems. Towards the end of the chapter at page 99 Gerald offers an insight from a leading bookmaker. ‘I like all punters, but I like systems punters best.’

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