Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Stopping the Nation

I am not sure that our horse race, The Melbourne Cup, does stop a nation but it certainly creates a stir. For the record on our personal annual horse betting day, my outgoings $22 with one win and one place. R's outgoings $38 with one win. That is far from breaking even, which we usually manage.

We had some breakfast at Fed Square while the second race was running.

Race day patrons get to the Flemington course by car, coach, plates of meat (one for Dina), tram, train, bus and possibly bicycle. Some even catch a double decker, perhaps an ex Hong Kong model.

Many arrive at Flinders Street Station by tram from the inner suburbs and then catch a train to the race course, the train having its own dedicated track once it leaves the larger city area. The service is usually excellent, although back in 2008 things did not go so well on Oaks Day, in fact it was a debacle. But it normally works extremely well with plenty of allocated resources.

There are always people around to make money on a day of cheer.

People gather on the concourse to meet their friends.

Once they are hooked up with who they know, they descend to the dedicated station platforms, 8 & 9.

Between nine and noon there is a train every four minutes to the racecourse. The train will pick even more people at Southern Cross and more again at North Melbourne and then run express. Four minutes can seem like a long time.

The train arrives and people spread over two platform surge on to the train from where they will be quickly delivered to the race course to eat, drink, gamble, display and make merry. Melbourne Cup, there is really nothing quite like it in the world. Not even the Kentucky Derby or Royal Ascot can match it as a day for the rich and poor alike.


  1. Can you believe I totally forgot it was Melbourne Cup day until about lunchtime? I'm just not that interested, haven't placed a bet in years.

  2. I saw it called The Festival Of Fascinators. The Smart Set in the Birdcage area must be missing Tony'the wig'Mobkel who used to supply the lines of white powder on big race days.

    what I noticed from the Finish photo is that poor winner horsey had his ears SO FKN FLAT to his head (sign of unhappiness) while that stunted thug thrashed the bejesus out of him in a bid for cash and fame.
    nothing to do with horsemanship.

    big money turns a horse race into something quite unsavoury.

    I hope you had the money on Red Thingummy to Place at $41 the unit though
    Thanks though for your gorgeous report.

  3. Gawd... last year we went to St Kilda to escape the drunken mobs!

    This year - at the doctor's with Sapphire suffering some particularly harsh form of gastro. Just peeked at the Age's photos of people and realised that if they're 'famous' then I'm really out of the loop because I hadn't heard of 99% of them.

    Nice pics though Andrew.

  4. I was asleep while the race was being run. But I did catch the end of the race on the news at 6pm. What a race! I love your pictures Andrew. I remember about 15 yrs ago hubby and I were supposed to meet friends at the Cup, but it rained so heavily we all ended up going to the pub across the road from the racecourse itself. It was great to watch it with lots of other patrons and not get wet :)

  5. There is definitely no other race day in the world that can match or better our Melbourne Cup :-).

  6. Don't think for a moment Andrew that I haven't noticed all the people in those photographs. :)

    Did you and R join all those people at the course or was this a click and run hit at the railway station?

  7. River, you certainly can't forget it here. It occurred to me that I could probably put bets on over the internet, but instead I went and did it in person.

    Ann, your knowledge scares me at times. So you don't approve of beating horses to make them run fast? Put like that, I can't say I do either. No Red whatever, it will just be a few dollars return.

    Kath, it amused me that the police were pleased with crowd behaviour, with only 160 ejected for drunken behaviour. I hate to think what the police consider good crowd behaviour. Don't worry, I did not know many of the celebs.

    Cazzie, that sounds like my kind of race meeting, from the comfort of a pub.

    Windsmoke, I thought some might challenge that statement, but no one is.

    Victor, sadly the best people photos were marred by what I think was milk vomit on the camera lens. Thanks Little Jo. We were but just passers by. I would never inflict a raceday on myself, unless I had some posh friends to take me and it was done it style and comfort.

  8. Can I be thoroughly cynical and point out that if they're able to run trains every 4 mins for a horse race surely they can run them every 4 mins for us hoi polloi plebian peasants every day...?
    Or do we need to dolly ourselves up daily with fascinators to qualify?

  9. Jayne, in the role of devil's advocate, I'll say that the numbers are certainly there to operate the four minutes service to the races. But slip on your fascinator, just in case.

  10. "Can I be thoroughly cynical and point out that if they're able to run trains every 4 mins for a horse race surely they can run them every 4 mins for us hoi polloi plebian peasants every day...?"
    Jayne wins! that is so true.

  11. Give Jayne a gold star. Brilliant observation.

    We had something similar in Sydney with the 2000 Olympic Games for which the train timetable was thrown out the window for three weeks and replaced by a continuous train service operating every few minutes. It worked superbly. Of course, during the Olympics every one - service providers and customers alike - was on their best behaviour and co-operative. If only life was like that without the motivation of a special event.

  12. the rich idiots fly in too!
    I had no channel 7 so I listened on the radio in between migraine explosions!

  13. Em Stacks, frequent trains? Preposterous.

    Victor, no doubt one reason why it was called the bestest games ever, until 2000 that is. Subsequently I think we have had two more best games ever.

    No channel seven and a migraine Fen? You are doing it tough.


Democracy is all very well, but why give it to the people? - Audrey Forbes-Hamilton.