Melbourne Cup 2023: Exotic bet help – quinella, exacta, trifecta, first four!

Watching the Melbourne Cup is always a special feeling, particularly for those of us who are born and bred in Victoria. It is a part of who we are.

It is un-Australian to not have a bet in the Cup, even if it just takes place in the form of a sweep in the office, or at home with a gathering of friends or family.

Last year’s winner, Gold Trip, paid $21 for the win. The placegetters, Emissary and High Emocean, jumped at a starting price $26 and $41 and paid healthy place dividends accordingly.

The year before, Verry Elleegant saluted and paid $16 for the win. Twilight Payment, who won in 2020, was 25-1. Who can forget Michelle Payne steering Prince of Penzance to victory at 100-1? It really is a race that any horse can win on the day, with the right jockey and the right run.

We all love backing the winner, and even finding a place-getter can be a thrill. Look at Makybe Diva’s three Melbourne Cups for instance. In 2003, the two placegetters were both 40-1. In 2004, Zazzman ran third at 100-1. And in 2005 we saw On a Jeune run second at 70-1.

A $10 place bet on any of those horses would have collected much more than a win bet on the legendary mare. The lesson: do not be afraid to have an each-way flutter at big odds.

But if we want to have a really big collect on Australia’s greatest race, without risking too much, we have to look at the exotic bets.

Once again hundreds of millions of dollars will be wagered on ‘the race that stops a nation’.

The most common types of exotic bets are quinella (first two horses in any order), exacta (first two horses in exact order), trifecta (first three horses) and first four (first four horses).

You can place these bets for whatever percentage of the collect you like. You might have a bet that returns nine per cent – that way if the dividend is $1000, you will collect $90.


The quinella is the “easiest” of the exotics to get a collect on. You can put as many horses in as you like, depending on how much you want to spend, but you have to find the first two across the line.

The two horses that Irish trainer Willie Mullins has brought over for the Melbourne Cup, have been all the rage in recent times. 5.Vauban has been the longtime favourite, but in the 48 hours before the cup his stablemate 7.Absurde has been heavily supported. They are both expected to run very, very well, and can form the anchor of our boxed quinella.

All eyes are on Vauban for Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup, live on Sky Sports Racing…! ????

— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) November 5, 2023

Since we are on the international theme, we might as well keep going. After all, they do have a seriously good record in the Cup over the last decade or two. 15.Lastotchka looks a live hope based on her Group form in France and is a last-start winner over 3100m. 20.More Felons is technically with Chris Waller but has only changed hands in the last month or so after a career in the UK. He ran well in the Geelong Cup

Boxing 5, 7, 15 and 20 will cost $6 to get 100% return.

Others might think the local form is going to prove stronger this year, and the Caulfield Cup may be the key reference.

3.Without A Fight won the Caulfield Cup, with 1.Gold Trip running a strong third, 8.Right You Are is at big odds here and ran a good fifth there, while 6.Soulcombe was one of the best closers in the race and will relish 3200m and Flemington at least as much as any other horse.

Boxing 1, 3, 6 and 8 ($6 for 100%) should give a good sight.


The Exacta often pays four or five times more than the quinella, because you have to predict the exact order of the first two home. It can pay even more if the outsider of the two horses finishes first.

Any combination of the above-mentioned quinella horses could get a nice exacta result, particularly if the favourite 5.Vauban does not quite live up to the hype.

But this could be a race where we say, you know what, winning form is good form. With the scratching of 10.Cleveland, there are seven last-start winners in the race – 3.Without A Fight, 5. Vauban, 7. Absurde, 15.Lastotchka, 17.Military Mission, 22.Interpretation and 23.Kalapour.

Those seven horses in a boxed exacta will cost $21 for 50% of the dividend, and there is a nice blend of favourites and horses at very big odds.

First time at the @Betfair_Aus Call of the Card.

Wondering who they will come for…probably most interest about their position on Vauban!#MelbourneCup

— Andrew Hawkins (@AndrewNJHawkins) November 6, 2023


The Melbourne Cup trifecta is where the bigger returns start kicking in, if we are lucky enough to land it. Last year, it paid $16,494 with three roughies running in the top three.

As we have touched on above, the internationals and those that have run well in the Caulfield Cup are probably the key players this year.

5.Vauban and 7.Absurde should be the first two horses in, given their form and the level of good judges getting warmer on their chances with every passing hour. 15.Lastotchka and 20.More Felons have shown staying prowess overseas, and get in with attractive lightweight – and we have seen More Felons already run well in the Geelong Cup.

3.Without A Fight won a fast run Caulfield Cup, plus is a winner at 2800m twice in the UK, so the distance should not be an issue. 1.Gold Trip was such a strong winner of the Melbourne Cup last year and is arguably in even better form now. 6.Soulcombe is desperate for Flemington and 3200m, and we hope he does not cost himself too much of a start at the barriers.

Those seven horses offer a range of odds, and we know they are in form.

Boxing 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 15, 20 and a $21 bet will give us 10 per cent of the dividend, which should see a handy return.

Second Gr1 win for Outstrip 6yo GOLD TRIP in the Turnbull Stakes@cmaherracing @ausbloodstock2 @AgaKhanStuds @TurfDiario

— Pedigree Update (@pedigreeupdate) October 7, 2023


While the trifecta paid over $16K last year for a $1 investment, the first four was worth $102,785! What a vast difference one extra horse can make!

But it is harder to box horses in a first four and get a good percentage without spending too much money, so we need to get creative.

We have mentioned a lot of horses already in this preview, and there are many ways you can cut them up into a first four.

This is the time to back your judgement in Australia’s greatest race.

A formula you can use is to pick two horses you like for first, add two more for second, add two more for third, and another two again for fourth.

I am looking for a bit of value, so I will be siding with 6.Soulcombe as the horse from the Caulfield Cup, and 15.Lastotchka as the best international at odds.

It might be wise to then add in the Mullins pair 5.Vauban and 7.Absurde, followed by 1.Gold Trip and 3.Without A Fight, who are sure to run well.

To round out the first four, let us throw in 20.More Felons and 22.Interpretation as the best 100-1 shot in the field.

WOW! ????

Vauban blows them away & gives Ryan Moore a treble on Day 1 at Royal Ascot!

Could we see him in Australia for the Melbourne Cup? ????

— (@Racing) June 20, 2023

This is how the above suggestion would look:

– 6, 15
– 5, 6, 7, 15
– 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 15
– 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 15, 20, 22

A $12 bet will get you 10% of the dividend, if the right horses get home in the right order.

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Now remember, you can study all the form guides you like, but your sister or uncle that do not know the first thing about racing will probably pick a runner because their favourite colour is green, and win more than everyone else combined!

But that is the beauty of Australia’s greatest race and why we love it so much. Every person has their own unique way of finding a winner. Good luck punters!

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