Melbourne Cup punters plunge on mare

It's the Melbourne Cup - literally. This hat from 1974 is made from plastic drink cups.
It's the Melbourne Cup - literally. This hat from 1974 is made from plastic drink cups.
Melbourne Cup Day in 1948.
Melbourne Cup Day in 1948.
The little girl in the background doesn't seem convinced but this was all the rage at the 1957 Melbourne Cup.
The little girl in the background doesn't seem convinced but this was all the rage at the 1957 Melbourne Cup.
When choosing an outfit, one must consider its versatility for all of the day's activities.
When choosing an outfit, one must consider its versatility for all of the day's activities.
Flower power from 1969.
Flower power from 1969.
Ah the 1980s, the Cave Girls hit the Melbourne Cup.
Ah the 1980s, the Cave Girls hit the Melbourne Cup.
Two years later... it's 1982 with all its big shoulders and odd hats.
Two years later... it's 1982 with all its big shoulders and odd hats.
Ditching the dresses in favour of a stylish pantsuit in 1972.
Ditching the dresses in favour of a stylish pantsuit in 1972.
And in 2009 they just did away with bottoms altogether.
And in 2009 they just did away with bottoms altogether.
The winners of the Fashions in the Field contest in 1967.
The winners of the Fashions in the Field contest in 1967.
Keeping it bright and cheerful in 1996.
Keeping it bright and cheerful in 1996.

Punters have warmed to the prospect of the Melbourne Cup remaining in Australia, sensationally supporting the only mare in this year's race, Lights Of Heaven, at yesterday's Call of the Card at Crown Casino.

One of two runners for premier Victorian trainer Peter Moody, the Brisbane Cup winner was backed to win A$1.2 million after chasing home Dunaden when third in the Caulfield Cup a week ago.

Betstar's Alan Eskander offered A$21 about Lights Of Heaven, which was quickly snapped up by two of Australia's biggest punters, Sean Bartholomew and Kingsley Bartholomew, who forked out $A25,000 and $A15,000 respectively to back the five-year-old Zabeel mare.

Fashions on the Field kicks off ahead of the big race at Flemington.
Fashions on the Field kicks off ahead of the big race at Flemington.
The bigger the hat, the better for Fashions on the Field.
The bigger the hat, the better for Fashions on the Field.
Mischa Barton dodges the rain.
Mischa Barton dodges the rain.
And with these shoes why wouldn't you stay out of the rain?
And with these shoes why wouldn't you stay out of the rain?
Sophie Monk strikes a pose.
Sophie Monk strikes a pose.
Australian actress Pia Miranda in a jumpsuit.
Australian actress Pia Miranda in a jumpsuit.
No that is not a towel on Jesinta Campbell's head. Really.
No that is not a towel on Jesinta Campbell's head. Really.
Rose Byrne keeps it simple.
Rose Byrne keeps it simple.
Matcho Suba from Australia's Project Runway. Yes that is a seahorse.
Matcho Suba from Australia's Project Runway. Yes that is a seahorse.
Glenn McGrath and his wife Sarah Leonardi.
Glenn McGrath and his wife Sarah Leonardi.
Actress Maria Venuti.
Actress Maria Venuti.
A fine example of Melbourne Cup hattage.
A fine example of Melbourne Cup hattage.
And the rest of the outfit to match the hat, worn by model Loredana Bonello.
And the rest of the outfit to match the hat, worn by model Loredana Bonello.
Winners and Losers stars, Virigina Gay (L) and Melanie Vallejo arrive at Flemington Racecourse.
Winners and Losers stars, Virigina Gay (L) and Melanie Vallejo arrive at Flemington Racecourse.
Another fine hat in action in Melbourne.
Another fine hat in action in Melbourne.
Packed to the Rafters actress Jessica McNamee in the celeb hangout, the Bird Cage.
Packed to the Rafters actress Jessica McNamee in the celeb hangout, the Bird Cage.
Going for something a little different is Ash Hart.
Going for something a little different is Ash Hart.
Fashion from the Bird Cage.
Fashion from the Bird Cage.
Bright colours are a strong theme at Flemington this year.
Bright colours are a strong theme at Flemington this year.
Bright colours are a strong theme at Flemington this year.
Bright colours are a strong theme at Flemington this year.
The fashionable and the beautiful gather for the Melbourne Cup.
The fashionable and the beautiful gather for the Melbourne Cup.
Former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins (L) and model Rebecca Judd.
Former Miss Universe Jennifer Hawkins (L) and model Rebecca Judd.
Making the most of the one day when it's OK to wear a huge hat.
Making the most of the one day when it's OK to wear a huge hat.
Or you could keep it small and tasteful.
Or you could keep it small and tasteful.
Visitors from the Pilbara arrive at the track for the cup.
Visitors from the Pilbara arrive at the track for the cup.
An early arrival for the Melbourne Cup 2012 at Flemington racecourse.
An early arrival for the Melbourne Cup 2012 at Flemington racecourse.

''I thought $A21 was a fair price, but I didn't think it was bulk overs,'' Eskander said.

''They just kept coming for it. We're standing it for about $A1.2 million at this stage and I think we took up most of the punting on the floor at $A21. Lights Of Heaven was easily the best backed.''

At the New Zealand TAB, Lights of Heaven is the fifth favourite, paying $16 to win. Last year's winner Dunaden is favoured at the NZ tote at $6.50, followed by Mount Athos at $7,  2010 winner Americain at $7.50 and Red Cadeaux at $9.

Melbourne Cup 2012 finish
Melbourne Cup 2012 finish
Brett Pebble takes forces his way to the front
Brett Pebble takes forces his way to the front
Brett Prebble riding Green Moon (R) crosses the finish line to win the Emirates Melbourne Cup.
Brett Prebble riding Green Moon (R) crosses the finish line to win the Emirates Melbourne Cup.
Brett Pebble riding Green Moon wins the Emirates Melbourne Cup
Brett Pebble riding Green Moon wins the Emirates Melbourne Cup
Prince Charles and Camilla speak with jockey Ryan Moore
Prince Charles and Camilla speak with jockey Ryan Moore
Damien Oliver riding Walk With Attitude wins the Lexus Hyrbrid Plate
Damien Oliver riding Walk With Attitude wins the Lexus Hyrbrid Plate
Kerrin McEvoy riding Genteel
Kerrin McEvoy riding Genteel
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales greats fans.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales greats fans.
Kerrin McEvoy riding Genteel wins the Schweppes Tonic 1000.
Kerrin McEvoy riding Genteel wins the Schweppes Tonic 1000.
Kerrin McEvoy leads the pack at the Schweppes Tonic 1000.
Kerrin McEvoy leads the pack at the Schweppes Tonic 1000.
Damien Oliver walks back to scale after his horse Detours broke down in the Herald Sun Stakes during 2012
Damien Oliver walks back to scale after his horse Detours broke down in the Herald Sun Stakes during 2012
Hugh Bowman making hard work of The Herald Sun Stakes.
Hugh Bowman making hard work of The Herald Sun Stakes.
Hugh Bowman riding Koonoomoo wins race four the Herald Sun Stakes during 2012 Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse
Hugh Bowman riding Koonoomoo wins race four the Herald Sun Stakes during 2012 Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse
Horses jump from the barrier in the Lavazza Long Black during 2012 Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse
Horses jump from the barrier in the Lavazza Long Black during 2012 Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington Racecourse
Dwayne Dunn riding Verdant celebrates winning the Lavazza Long Black
Dwayne Dunn riding Verdant celebrates winning the Lavazza Long Black
The horses round the bend in the Lavazza Long Black
The horses round the bend in the Lavazza Long Black
 Dwayne Dunn riding Verdant
Dwayne Dunn riding Verdant
Jockeys exit the mounting yard on their horses amidst the big crowd before the TAB Trophy race.
Jockeys exit the mounting yard on their horses amidst the big crowd before the TAB Trophy race.
Brett Prebble riding Kasane wins the TAB Trophy.
Brett Prebble riding Kasane wins the TAB Trophy.
Brett Prebble riding Kasane wins the TAB Trophy.
Brett Prebble riding Kasane wins the TAB Trophy.
Damien Oliver walks through the mounting yard at the 2012 Melbourne Cup.
Damien Oliver walks through the mounting yard at the 2012 Melbourne Cup.
Michael Rodd riding Villa Verde wins race one the 7News Plate during 2012 Melbourne Cup.
Michael Rodd riding Villa Verde wins race one the 7News Plate during 2012 Melbourne Cup.
Michael Rodd riding Villa Verde wins race one the 7News Plate during 2012 Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington.
Michael Rodd riding Villa Verde wins race one the 7News Plate during 2012 Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington.
Horses cross the line in the 7 News Plate during 2012 Melbourne Cup.
Horses cross the line in the 7 News Plate during 2012 Melbourne Cup.

Niwot, another Melbourne-prepared hopeful staring down the European invasion, was the subject of the call's biggest liability for bookmaker Tom Waterhouse after he accepted a $A10,000 each-way bet at $A71.

The Lights Of Heaven plunge and Niwot splurge was in stark contrast to the cool reception Americain and Dunaden received, with a $A50,000 wager at $A8 on Dunaden the only serious interest in the past two Cup winners.

Waterhouse was ''surprised'' Americain and Dunaden were on the nose with the big players on Cup eve.

''They came for them, but they didn't come for the favourites the way I thought they would,'' he said. ''We held a lot of money [on other horses] and I suppose we've just got to hope it goes the right way [today].''

Caulfield Cup flop Glencadam Gold was the subject of a $A5000 each-way wager at $A51 before another punter launched into a revised $A41 with a $A10,000 each-way bet. Waterhouse also stands to lose $A250,000 on a single wager on Bart Cummings' Sanagas.

Overseas-trained horses Red Cadeaux ($A12), Tac De Boistron ($A81), Mount Athos ($A8) and My Quest For Peace ($A21) were all well tried. Eskander said apart from Lights Of Heaven, the small support for a number of runners in the great race indicated the field assembled was the most even for years.

''I think it's one of the best Melbourne Cups we've had assembled in recent history - if not all time,'' he said. ''I think when you have a level race like that it's hard for them [punters] to try to decide. Over the next 24 hours there'll be a truckload more money.''

Waterhouse said: ''This is a very, very good even field with a lot of good horses. The money came straight for a lot of them.''

Sydney Morning Herald