How Does a Calcutta Work? Raffle tickets are sold on the night. The ticket sales create a pool of money called the “Starting Pool”. On Calcutta night, the corresponding number of tickets to horses racing in the Melbourne Cup are drawn out and are matched with a horse. Those lucky enough to have drawn a horse become the ‘horse owner’. (Please note that there is no money back for late scratchings.) At this point, horses will be auctioned. Anyone can bid on any horse during the auction. If the original ‘horse owner’ would like to keep their horse, they must have the highest bid. However, the owner only has to pay half the amount that he or she has successfully bid. This amount is added to the “Starting Pool”. If the successful bidder is not the original ‘horse owner’, they must pay the full amount of the bid. Half this amount is added to the “Starting Pool”, while the other 50% goes to the original ‘horse owner’. The successful bidder is now the new ‘horse owner’. The prize pool is divvied up amongst the ‘horse owners’ of the first 3 place getters in the Melbourne Cup.