Kevin Rudd picks the Melbourne Cup winner at Ballina RSL yesterday. Jacinta Ray (left), ALP Branch Member and Janelle Saffin (r
Kevin Rudd picks the Melbourne Cup winner at Ballina RSL yesterday. Jacinta Ray (left), ALP Branch Member and Janelle Saffin (r

KEVIN ON A WINNING STREAK

By Alex Easton and Kimberley Smith alex.easton@northernstar.com.au

IF KEVIN RUDD was looking for election predictions as he watched yesterday's Melbourne Cup at the Ballina RSL Club, he would have come away confused.

The good news for the Labor Leader was he backed the winning horse, Efficient.

But the omens were mixed. Mr Rudd who is favourite to become the next Prime Minister backed Efficient, an outsider in the big race, offering a handsome return of $22.60 to anyone game enough to back him.

With a beer in his hand, Mr Rudd watched eagerly with fellow ALP members and his travelling media scrum as the horses hurtled down the track.

A surprised Mr Rudd could not wipe the stunned grin from his face and embraced the praise from other race-watchers.

However, Mr Rudd had joked earlier about his lack of expertise when it came to gambling, so his big win may have been all down to luck after all.

Asked if he thought the win boded well or ill for his election campaign, Mr Rudd just laughed.

But Page Labor candidate Janelle Saffin, who blew her $10 on a sentimental wager on Bart Cummings' horse Sirmione, had no doubts.

"It's a good omen," she said emphatically.

Mr Rudd had put his $10 on Efficient and Zipping after his first choice, Maybe Better, was scratched from the race.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister John Howard's horse, Mahler, finished the great race third.

Mr Howard had earlier suggested Mr Rudd should also have picked Mahler for the race.

"I think he should have followed the tried and true policy of me-tooism and backed my horse, at least he would still be in the race," Mr Howard said.

However, the Prime Minister was not looking for omens in the Cup.

Asked if he hoped the scratching would be a metaphor for the election, Mr Howard replied: "I don't get into that." WITH AAP#



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