The Melbourne Cup is the race that stops a nation.
Melbourne may be the only city in the world that has a public holiday around a thoroughbred horse race. Since 1861, the city has stopped on the first Tuesday of November for this three-minute, 3,200 meter race. This year, 24 horses competed for the Cup and the $6.2 million prize. Favourites included 2010 winner Americain and 2011 winner Dunaden, but in a stunning upset, Green Moon shone brighter and placed first. Americain and Dunaden placed 11th and 14th respectively.
The Melbourne Cup is part of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival, which is made up of 114 races between late September and mid-November, but there’s more to it than just racing. Off the track, there are lunches, cocktail parties, dinners, balls, and fashion parades. Ladies exchange their winter coats for bright spring dresses and elegant hats. Hats are so popular that the Carnival alone almost keeps Melbourne’s milliners in business. Male fashion is not too shabby either.
The Melbourne Cup is attracts people who are otherwise not interested in racehorsing and is one of the biggest betting events in Australia. I got into the spirit of it and watched the race with Theo and friends over bubbly and barbecue. I even bet $10 on Green Moon. I don’t know anything about race-horsing and picked the winning horse based on its name. Not bad for a beginner. Next year, I’ll wear a hat.
Do you follow horse racing? Did you watch the Melbourne Cup?