Changes to the 2021 Melbourne Cup

identifying a front runner in horse racing

 The 2021 Melbourne Cup is scheduled to go ahead on Tuesday 2 November and is the most famous race on the Australian Thoroughbred racing calendar.

Twilight Payment was a 26/1 winner at last year’s event. It is unknown if Joseph O’Brien’s horse will race at this year’s event, but it has failed to win in any of its three meetings this year. Having been a previous winner though, Twilight Payment would be worth considering backing.

As of now, it is unclear as to whether Twilight Payment will be back to try again, especially as he will be eight years of age.

First run in 1861, the ‘The Race That Stops A Nation’ is held on the first Tuesday of November each year. Held at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne with the track a distance of 3,200 metres, prize money for this year’s event is set to be $7,750,000. This punishing distance tests a horse’s stamina and staying power. The prize fund makes it the richest handicap prize every November.


The Sydney Cup in New South Wales is the only other 3,200 metre Group 1 race on Australian shores.

Whilst the Melbourne Cup draws a huge audience in Australia, countless international racing fans tune into the event also. However, with a 15:00 start time locally, it means United Kingdom fans would need to be tuned in at 06:00 here.

Half of the field is often bred outside of Australia and New Zealand, which has helped grow the audience internationally. British horse Cross Counter won the race in 2018, trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by Kerrin McEvoy.

However, changes ahead of 2021 will make it more difficult for a British horse to win the Melbourne Cup this year. Fewer international horses will be invited to contest for the trophy. A maximum of 24 international horses will be invited to the Spring Racing Carnival.

That is one of 41 changes to the event. Other notable changes include:

  • Horses that have had previous major fractures or orthopaedic surgery be excluded
  • Pre-travel veterinary inspections are performed under race day conditions
  • International horses undergo full body scans
  • Additional vet RV checks within a week of arriving in quarantine in Australia
  • RV vet staff to oversee or provide clinical service
  • Jockeys and trackwork riders to provide report on horse’s gait and exercise each morning to a dedicated independent trawork supervisor
  • International and local horses must undergo CT scan of limbs before every race start, and those images sent to an RV panel of experts

In what is understood to be a world-first initiative, all horses must undergo a CT scan of their distal limbs before being permitted to compete. This diagnosis must be performed after the Caulfield Cup and prior to Melbourne Cup final acceptance.

These scans will then be reviewed by a panel of RV-appointed international experts in equine surgery and veterinary diagnostic imaging to determine the horse’s suitability to race.

The 2021 Melbourne Cup will continue to go ahead with 24 runners.

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