Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Melbourne Cup Runneth Over.


Today is The Race That Stops A Nation.

It’s Melbourne Cup Day which, if you’re in Melbourne, would probably be fantastic. You get a public holiday, and you’re pretty much expected to go the Flemington, get drunk and gamble. Australia: a land of proud traditions.

You can get as frocked up as you like:

This is from 2011, and probably hideously outdated by now.
source 
Or make another choice entirely:

source
And I wish I could tell you I'd most likely be in the first picture, but I think you all know me better than that. 

“The Race That Stops A Nation” isn’t just hyperbole. You try making a business appointment for Melbourne Cup afternoon. Try going to a shopping centre, a bank, or even the dentist. Because when the race is on, all customer service ceases. Everyone watches the race. It’s kind of like how I imagine the moon landing was. Except it’s every year. And there are horses. Which would have made the moon landing even more exciting, honestly.

 My earliest memory of The Melbourne Cup is drawing sweepstakes in primary school, and watching the race on TV. Looking back, I wonder how appropriate it is to teach children to gamble. I wonder if they still do it.

Melbourne Cup Day is strange. If you can get the day, or even just the afternoon off work, there is a general expectation that you'll head down to the nearest pub or club. There you will pore over the form guide in the newspaper like you actually understand it, throw around terms like “boxed trifecta” as though you know what that means, and listen to the advice of strange old men who smell of beer and tobacco that lurk in the TAB and promise you they have a sure tip. 

This year I’m not working. This year I have the whole day off, and I’m going out gambling and drinking just because it’s Melbourne Cup Day. No, I’m going out gambling and drinking because it’s a friend’s birthday. The gambling will be incidental but the drinking will be compulsory because Nikki is ex-Navy. She still drinks, and swears, like a sailor. Going to be a big day.

I’m putting everything (by which I mean ten dollars) on Ethiopia. The form guide tells me it doesn’t have much hope of winning, but I like the jockey’s colours. Wish me luck!

10 comments:

  1. Sounds like Derby Day in Louisville, home of the Kentucky Derby. :)

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    1. I think that would be a fun day out as well!

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  2. I must confess I never heard of it, but I looked it up, and it said, "Aussie punters are tipped to splurge more than a quarter of a billion dollars on today's Melbourne Cup."

    Then, of course, I had to look up what a punter is, which it seems is a gambler. For a moment I thought it meant someone making the rounds of the pubs, and thought, good God.

    I'll pick Galileo's Choice, but hope the home country Precedence also does well.

    Have a great time with your friend, don't spill too much beer on your habit, and give my best to Prince Charles.

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    1. Thanks, MC! As you know, my horse didn't place. Never does!
      Neither did your picks though, so apparently you know as much about horse racing as me! But it was a fun day out! I'm home at a very reasonable 6 pm, not too much the rose for weat.

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    2. Um, would that be "not too much the worse for wear"? :-)

      But hey, you did better than me - I didn't even last till race time.

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    3. Whoops! Oh wine, why do you go for my motor skills first? It's not like I can type well to begin with.

      I think you did we'll keeping up for as long as you did. There's only so much you can do before the International Date Line screws everything up.

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  3. I've never been to a horse race, and don't gamble much either. Guess I'd have to change a few things if I visit Melbourne during race time. I'm usually okay with trying something new. And I remember Audrey Hepburn telling that nag to 'move your arse', in My Fair Lady.

    Funny post. We have racetracks here, but no big race day that I've heard about. Perhaps in eastern Canada.

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    1. Not just Melbourne, DG, the whole country! And it's a weird tradition, given that I guess about 95% of people don't give a damn about horse racing any other time of year, but what can you do? Rail against it, or give in and have a fun day? You know what choice I made!

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  4. Have a good time! I liked the few horse races I've been to in California, but I'm not much of a better. Good luck on your choice winning.

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    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! My horse didn't win, but that's okay! I walk in expecting to lost -- that way I'm never disappointed! That's the secret to gambling I think. :)

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