Bad news, everybody. We’ve done the form, we’ve trawled the records and we’ve come to the only possible conclusion. Not one of the 23 starters can possibly win today’s Melbourne Cup. Ask the TAB for your money back, if you’ve already invested. So why can’t the horses win?

Let’s start with the key figure – how the bookies rate them. Only three horses in 145 previous Melbourne Cups have managed to win at odds of 100/1 or worse. So, on the form guide we referred to, that jettisons Short Pause (paying $301.00 per dollar invested for the win overnight), Land’n’Stars ($151), Mahtoum ($201), Ice Chariot ($201), Zabeat ($201), Demerger ($151) and Dolphin Jo ($101).

But get this – in the past 30 years, only two horses (Tawriffic and Think Big) have won at more than 20/1! So, even if we cut Activation ($21), On A Jeune ($21) and Mandela ($26) some slack, we just got rid of Railings, Headturner, Kerry O’Reilly, Art Success and Glistening.

A scan of the Cup’s history tells us that the favourite or equal favourite has only won 33 times out of 145 Cups, a strike rate of less than 23%. In other words, the chances of Tawqeet ($5) or maybe Yeats ($6) winning are 77% against! And Tawqeet has a sore hoof. Forget them. Efficient ($8) is easily dismissed, because it was scratched this morning – plus no three-year-old has won the Cup since 1941 and the poor nag would have been the only horse in the field carrying genuine weight for age.

On A Jeune is coming out of Barrier 15, which has produced only one winner ever (Silver Knight in 1971) and his jockey, Darren Gauci, hasn’t won the Cup in 16 attempts. No chance. Activation has never won over 2020 metres so that’s like a 1500 metre runner entering the Olympic marathon.

Four and five-year-olds have won the vast majority of Melbourne Cups, so we can ditch six-year-old has-beens like Delta Blues, Geordieland and Pop Rock – which also comes out of Japan, unlike any Cup winner ever. Mandela is carrying number 21 – the unluckiest saddlecloth in Cup history, with only one win (in 1923) – and while we hate to be s-xist, girls don’t tend to win the Cup, with a mere (pun intended) 16 victories in 145 Cups – and Makybe Diva was three of those. That rules out Dizelle, a bay mare.

That leaves Zipping ($18) and Maybe Better ($11). Zipping has never won over 3200 metres, likes the ground soft underfoot (and there’s a drought on despite a sprinkle of rain this morning), and is carrying Greg Boss, who has won the past three Cups by not falling off the Diva. Four in a row? Sorry, Bossman.

Maybe Better has run further in this Spring campaign than any of the others – with 15,800 metres under his belt already. He’ll be stuffed before the straight. You heard it here first.