Great Barrier Grief: The Melbourne Cup Number That is Every Punter's Nightmare
It's normally a pretty positive number in many contexts.
The number 18 is usually nobody's nemesis. You get to vote at 18, and you can drink in pubs. These things are good, in moderation (especially the voting).
But number 18 is not a good Melbourne Cup number. In fact it's a shocker, in two distinct ways.
The first issue, as you can see in the graphic below, is that a horse starting in barrier 18 has never won the great race. Ever.
That's quite a statistical anomaly, given that barrier stalls have been used in the Melbourne Cup since 1924.
So should you be wary of backing the horse who will start in barrier 18 -- which for the record is the New Zealand-trained four-year-old The Chosen One? Or if you draw The Chosen One in the office sweep, should you tear up your ticket before they've jumped?
Just know this. That Who Shot TheBarman had barrier 18 in the 2018 Cup, and finished 17th. In 2017, Gallante had barrier 18 and finished last. Hey, at least some office sweeps give you your money back for finishing last. But it's not good. There really is something about barrier 18 that seems to make horses go backwards.
The question is why. There's no problem with barrier 17 (five wins) or barrier 19 (six wins). what's wrong with 18?
In general, wide barriers are not too much of a disadvantage in the Melbourne Cup. From the 3200m start at Flemington, there's such a long run down the straight to the first turn, every runner has a chance to find a good spot.
So in reality, it's probably just a quirk of fate, and there's no big curse around the number 18.
OR IS THERE?
Well, it turns out there's another reason why 18 is not a great Melbourne Cup number.
Horses carrying that number on their saddlecloths have won just two Melbourne Cups. That's is the equal-lowest number of wins for any of the 24 numbers in use today (they used to have much larger fields in the old days).
In fact, the last horse to win with number 18 was Peter Pan way back in 1932.
Look, we won't tell you to avoid horse number 18, Surprise Baby, on Melbourne Cup day. All losing streaks end at some point. And Surprise Baby is actually a pretty good chance, not to mention a great battler's tale, as we told you in this story.
But if you're the superstitious type, don't say we didn't warn you.
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