The Great Race

I’ve lived away from home, Melbourne that is, for over 5 years now and I get homesick often. It’s hard not to. But there is probably no other time of the year that I would want to be in Melbourne more than in spring…..for the Spring Racing Carnival. Today, for the uninitiated, is Melbourne Cup Day, which is held annually on the first Tuesday of every November.

The $5.1 million Emirates Melbourne Cup is more than just a horse race – it is a 145-year old social and cultural tradition that ‘stops the nation’. This spectacular event is the focal point of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

This might sound ridiculous to those who live outside Australia, but horse racing is something we take pretty seriously down under. So seriously, in fact, that Melbourne Cup Day is a public holiday in Melbourne, and 21 of the other regional cities in the state of Victoria also has a public holiday in honour of their own “Cup Day”.

For girls especially, Spring Racing Carnival is a social event more than anything else. It’s a chance to get dressed up (hats are almost compulsory), go out with your girlfriends and drink way too much champagne! And there are a few horses around for those that are interested…

It’s the only time of the year that I actually gamble, and will allow myself to by hats. The scramble in the weeks leading up to spring racing is like nothing else, its worse than sale time. It’s pretty much the only time of year you’ll see hats for sale in the major department stores, and I’m sure its the only time of year our talented miliners make any money! But, as most girls I know need a different outfit for each of the major races, thats at least a few hats per year!

If the weather is good (always a gamble in Melbourne at this time of year) there is nothing more fun than getting dressed up from hat to heels and heading down to Flemington racecourse to watch the crowds, the boys make idiots of themselves, a few horses, the punters and most importantly, the ‘fashions on the field’. Myer, one of Australia’s oldest and largest department stores sponsors a fashion contest called “Fasions on the Field” which to the girls is more important than the horse race itself.

And for those of you who are still doubt as to how seriously Melbournians take this…..last year Emma Jane Pilkington was brought over from the US to decorate the main sponsors tent, and Carson Kreslley came to judge the contest! (Fashions on the fields that is, not the horses).

As the race is already over, (“Efficient” won if anyone is interested), I know my friends will be heading home from the racecourse, or from the home of whoever hosted this years BBQ, probably drunk, hatless, and looking a little less glam than they did this morning…but I wish I could be there with you!!

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