That's right, on the first Tuesday in November a horse race called the Melbourne Cup, starts at about 3:05pm and the world as we Australians know it, comes to a halt for about 3 minutes while 15 or so thoroughbreds run 2 miles. Whether you're a hard core gambler or a sweep recipient like me . . . it's a phenomenan. In my younger days, it was the excuse for a Ladies Lunch, fashion parade and lots of hilarity . . . now I'm a working girl so it's time out during the work day.
Victorians get a day off (lucky lucky bastards). We do 'lunch' wearing a range of assorted silly hats - yep the Nepalese mountain hat gets a guernsey as do the facinators and silly noggin warmers. Tomorrow, we're ordering in Thai, placing our $1, $2 and $5 bets (big spenders all!) and huddle around the television watching the race.
I don't know who's running . . . I don't really care, I'm usually lucky and manage to win a few bob . . we'll drink Champers, pretend we know the form. Wank lyrical about how pretty the little horses are and what a clever trainer Bart Cummings is then knock of earlyish - or go back to our desks at 4.00 and pretend we're working!
If you're lucky enough to go to Flemington in Melbourne, there are three classes of people. The Car Park silly crowd. They dress up, drink a lot and enjoy the race on the big screen. The terrace serious crowd who don't rate the actual Melbourne Cup but place bets on all the day's races and the "Ooh, look, I have a ticket to a corporate tent" crowd who wear ridiculous hats, show too much cleavage and manage to get their photos on the society pages.
Either way, the cup is a great leveller, they'll all stumble back to the station with their stillettoes in hand, hair bedraggled and their hats lolled precariously on their heads. The ties will have been dispensed and thongs replace the highly polished Julious Marlows as the dishevilled mob begins to feel the effects of too much champagne, too many horses, too much gambling . . . it's a wonder any remember who actually wins the event.
My choice "Purple Moon" - I like the name. Irish horse with an Italian Trainer and Australian Jockey . . who says I'm not multinational! Then again, Tawqeet is being ridden by my maiden namesake. Blue Monday is a really nice name and the way I feel most Monday mornings. Scenic Shot is reminiscent of Phoctober. The Fuzz is just a funny name for a slick racehorse and Sermione is trained by one of the best . . .I just hope Mahler comes last . . .probably one of the most boring classical composers ever! Decisions, decisions . . . I'm really glad it's a sweep! Wanna hear something funny? It's going to be a wet track and the European horses like it dry! What the?
Now, where's my money bags, Goong Pad and Pad Thai? Here's the field (apparently Master O'Reilly and Purple Moon are the favourites thanks to Aussie runners being denuded by the impact of flu!
- Tawqeet (USA), David Hayes, D Dunn, 57, 3
- Blue Monday (GB), David Hayes, N Rawiller, 56, 14
- Blutigeroo, Colin Little, L Nolen, 55.5, 12
- Gallic (NZ), Graeme Rogerson, S W Arnold, 55.5, 24
- Railings, Roger James, G Childs, 55.5, 18
- Efficient (NZ), Graeme Rogerson, M Rodd, 54.5, 10
- Maybe Better, Brian Mayfield-Smith, C Brown, 54, 7
- Tungsten Strike (USA), Amanda Perrett, Darryll Holland, 54, 2
- Zipping, Graeme Rogerson, D Nikolic, 54, 22
- Black Tom, David Hayes, P A Hall, 53.5, 21
- Master O'Reilly (NZ), Danny O'Brien, V Duric, 53.5, 17
- Purple Moon (IRE), Luca Cumani, D Oliver, 53.5, 15
- Lazer Sharp, David Hayes, B Shinn, 52.5, 16
- On a Jeune, Andrew J Payne, K McEvoy, 52.5, 4
- Scenic Shot, Daniel Morton, M J Zahra, 52.5, 19
- Sarrera, Michael Moroney, S Murphy (a), 52, 23
- Sculptor (NZ), Peter Mckenzie, Ms L Cropp, 52, 8
- Dolphin Jo, Terry & Karina O'Sullivan, Ms C Lindop, 51.5, 1
- Douro Vallery, Danny O'Brien, J M Winks, 51.5, 13
- Sirmione, Bart Cummings, P Mertens, 51.5, 20
- The Fuzz (NZ), David Hayes, C Williams, 51.5, 11
- Eskimo Queen (NZ), Michael Moroney, C Newitt, 51, 5
- Princess Coup, Mark Walker, N G Harris, 51, 9
- Mahler (GB), Aidan O'Brien, S Baster, 50.5, 6
Well I guess all's well that 'ends' well - Car Park Punters after the race!