Melbourne Cup’s Luckiest and Unluckiest Horse Numbers

This year number 12 in the Melbourne Cup is a French horse called Auvray. He’s not well fancied in the odds but he does have one thing going for him. History tells us that the luckiest numbers for a horse running in the Melbourne Cup are numbers 12 and 4.
Since the Cup began in 1861, the horse bearing the number 12 saddle cloth has won the cup 11 times, the most recent being Makybe Diva in her first win in 2003.
While the Number 4 saddle cloth has also won the Cup on eleven occasions, it’s a little more off its game.  The number 4 has not won since the 1986 running of the Cup – yep, 32 years ago. This year Chestnut Coat has the number 4 saddle cloth and is jumping from barrier number 4. It could be a sign that its the only number horse to draw the same number barrier this year.
The next lucky numbers are:
Number 1 has won 10 times.
Number 6 has won 9 times.
Numbers 5 and 8 have all won 8 times.
Number 2, 11 and 19 have each won 7 times.
The least luckiest numbers for a horse in the Melbourne Cup are numbers 7, 16, 18, 21 and 23.  They’ve all won before but only on two occasions in the 158 year history of the Cup.
This years contenders with those not-so-lucky saddle cloths are:
7 – Who Shot Thebarman $34
16 – Ventura Storm
18 – Nakeeta $101
21 – Runaway $41
23 – Cross Counter $9
So things are looking up for the number 23 featuring in the favourites market this year but the number 18 drought looks likely to continue at $101.
Arguably though, the Number 20 is even unluckier. Although it has won on three occasions and on the face of that, it makes it a bit luckier than the numbers above… we think the number 20 is a little bit jinxed when it comes to the Cup. It has not won in more than 120 years.  The number 20 has not won since Gaulus won in 1897 and before that, in 1886 when the winner was a horse called Jarsenal.  Before that, it was 1880 when Grand Fleur won the Cup. Been a while then, huh?! Maybe its jinxed? Maybe its due?
This year it is a horse called Zacada wearing the number 20… a roughie currently at odds of $81… so the number 20 drought may well continue. But you never know. Roughies do get up to win the Cup with the likes of Prince of Penzance who won at $101 in 2015.
There is one more number that needs a mention on the unlucky list and that is number 18 – more specifically barrier 18. Barrier 18 is the only barrier in the history of the race that has never won the Cup. Every other barrier has won at least twice (except 15 – its only won once). The point is, these numbers do not bode well for Who Shot TheBarman – who has drawn Barrier 18 and will be wearing the not-so-lucky number 7 saddle cloth!
Fun fact: although there are only 24 horses in the Great Race, the Cup has been won twice by horses wearing the number 25 and once by the horse wearing 26 and 28 and even once by a number 39. We’ve ignored these unusual  numbers for the stats above.

There aren’t a lot of horses with names starting with the letter P in this year’s field of Melbourne Cup runners. That’s going to make things a little tricky for those who trust their lucky letter “P” to choose their horses.  Why the letter “P” you ask?  Well the statistics are clear. The letter P is the luckiest letter when it comes to names of past Melbourne Cup winners. The letter P has featured 23 times as the first letter of words in previous winners’ names.

Prince of Penzance helped it along with 2 hits for the letter P when it won in 2015. Protectionist won in 2014. Media Puzzle in 2002. Might and Power in 1997.

Twenty-three words beginning with P in the history of the Cup since 1861 may not seem like that many… but to put it in context, only one other letter comes close. The letter “T” has 18 hits.

“A” “B” and “S” are the next luckiest – with each featuring 16 times at the start of words in previous winners’ names.

If P is your lucky letter, then No. 17 –  A Prince of Arran is your horse… the only other P in the field is in the middle of Rostropovich (#24).

Best Cup Winning Female Horse

Everyone has heard of the great mare Makybe Diva.  She’s the most successful horse in the history of the Melbourne Cup.  Not only did she win the Melbourne Cup but she won it three years in a row from 2003.

This year the only mare in the field of 24 horses is Youngstar (Number 22). She had a great run in the Group 1 Turnbull States finishing second just one length behind the mighty Winx but was four lengths behind Best Solution in the Caulfield Cup.  The big question mark for Youngstar though is that she has never raced beyond 2400m and the Cup is a 3200m race.


Best (and only) Cup Winning Female Jockey

The first female Jockey to win the Melbourne Cup was Michelle Payne who rode the $101 longshot Prince of Penzance to victory in 2015. Yep – the Great Race first began in 1861.  It is such an achievement they’ve made a movie about her called “Ride Like a Girl”.

That achievement won’t be repeated this year, as there are no female jockeys riding in the 2018 Melbourne Cup.


Cup Winning Female Trainers

When Ethereal  won the Melbourne Cup in 2001, Sheila Laxon became the first female trainer to win the Melbourne Cup.

Gai Waterhouse won her first Melbourne Cup with Fiorente in 2013. Gai is the only female trainer with a contender in the 2018 Melbourne Cup, with number 21 – Runaway.


Lots of attention has been on one horse called Yucatan and, at the moment, it seems to be the hot favourite to win the Cup.

Image may contain: one or more people, people riding on horses, horse and outdoorImage credit:


Why? Well, Yucatan had a brilliant win in October at Caulfield in the Group Two Herbert Power Stakes. Many say it was one of the best Cup lead up races you will ever see.  In short, he was way out in front of the rest of the runners and really slowed down in the last bit of the race and still won easily.

The horse is trained by Aidan O’Brien who has won big races all over the world like the Cox Plate, the English and Irish Derby, the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe and more). Many think it is only a matter of time before trainer Aidan O’Brien wins the Cup and that Yucatan is the one to do it for him. But every year there is a news storyline asking the question about whether the Irish trainer can finally win!

Yucatan has also been in the news a little bit because of his name. This Melbourne Cup contender named Yucatan comes from Ireland but there is another horse called Yucatan registered in South Australia that races under that name.  The Cup contender O’Brien trained horse was going to have to have a name change for the cup but that’s all been sorted out now and he can race under his name Yucatan after all. Phew … well, maybe…

The thing is, there are a few things going against Yucatan getting up to win.

For starters… there has NEVER been a previous winner with a word beginning with the letter “Y” in its name.


The letter “Y” and the letter “U” are the only letters that have NEVER featured in the start of names of past winners.  So that sort of sucks for Yucatan and also the other horses Youngstar and Yogi who are also looking to run in this year’s Cup! But there is a first time for everything right?!

Secondly, favourites don’t tend to win the Cup.  In the 157 year history of the Cup the favourite has won only 34 times… so that’s 23% of the time the favourite has won.  Marmelo was the favourite in 2016 but Almandin got up to win (although he was a short price too!) And in 2015 Michelle Payne rode Prince of Penzance to victory at odds of $101! Yucatan at the moment has odds of about $6.  It’s a sure bet that those odds will only go lower before Tuesday’s race.

Yucatan is due to be ridden in the Cup by jockey James McDonald. Maybe he will be the one to break the Melbourne Cup curse of the letter “Y”.

This year, there are two potential runners who have two words in their names where both words start with the same letter. They are Cross Counter and Chestnut Coat.

Don’t you just love the alliteration? Alright…if you want to get technical “Ch” is a different sound to “C” but, you know – meh.

If you love to choose your lucky horse by using your lucky letters,  these kind of horses make it an easy decision of who to bet on!

But do they have any history of winning in the Melbourne Cup? The good news is YES!! See for yourself with these past winners of the Melbourne Cup:

2015       Prince of Penzance

1980       Beldale Ball

1964       Polo Prince

1950       Cosmic Court

1934       Peter  Pan

1932       Peter Pan

Ok, ok …so that is only 7 times out of 150 odd years but seriously, most horses only have one word in their name so its pretty logical that two word names don’t win as often. But even less two-word named horses have beautiful alliteration like the winners above.

If you need more of a reason to look at Cross Counter and Chestnut Coat in the Cup, then it might help to know that the letter C is pretty lucky in terms of past Cup Winners names.

10 previous winners have had words in their names beginning with the letter C.

C is the 10th luckiest letter of the alphabet when it comes to the Melbourne Cup.

At the time of writing – Cross Counter is currently sitting on odds of about $10.