Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Melbourne Cup

Today was the Melbourne Cup, a large horse race that is similar to The Kentucky Derby...only much more popular.  It's called the race that "stops the nation" and I can now wholeheartedly agree with that statement.  Earlier this week, my boss announced that we could leave work early today in order to celebrate. (Yes, I have a job...more on that in another post.)  I thought this was odd, but rather nice of her.  Who doesn't like an afternoon off?
Who won?  The jockey wearing yellow with blue stars.
photo from www.melbournecup.com
Then, today when I got to work, all anyone could talk about was the race.  People were ducking out of the office intermittently to place bets and change their bets and place more bets.  Several offices were participating in an office "sweep" where everyone chips in a couple of dollars, betting tickets are purchased for each horse, and then distributed randomly so as to give everyone a fun, fair chance to win a little bit of money.

At about 1pm, we turned on the TV in our office and pretended to do work while actually listening to the pre-race coverage.  About that time, I went to the cafe around the corner and saw mobs of people dressed to the nines.  Men in suits and ladies in fancy dresses with fascinators in their hair.  They were all headed to the hotel near my office so I'm guessing there was some sort of party there.  I really wish I had my camera so that I could have taken some pictures.
Fascinators worn at today's Melbourne Cup
photo from www.fabsugar.com

The race started at 3pm and rather than heading to the pub (and since we couldn't leave work until 4:30), everyone stayed in the office to watch.  I didn't place any bets so I wasn't as caught up in the race as my co-workers were.  However, I enjoyed experiencing this part of Australian culture.  And who knows, maybe next year I will place a bet.  :)

I know some of you may be wondering the outcome.  A horse named Dunaden and his French jockey Christophe Lemaire won the race.  One girl in my office actually bet on him to win - she placed a $25 bet and walked away with around $140.  Last year, she won $250.  Apparently, one of her friends is an avid racing fan and gives her tips every year.  If I do place that bet next year, I'll be sure to ask her advice first.
Wow, that was a close finish!
photo from www.melbournecup.com
The first that I heard of this race was a couple of months ago when I was researching public holidays in Australia.  It's not a national public holiday, but it is a public holiday for the state of Victoria which is where the city of Melbourne is located. Can you imagine getting the day off for The Kentucky Derby?  Perhaps in Kentucky...

I was also struck by the track, which is not dirt but rather grass.  Tennis is also played on grass here.  I doubt that the two are connected, but interesting nonetheless.

3 comments:

  1. What? No betting? Sounds awesome.

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  2. I was in the office working and for once our corridor was deserted! We usually have champagne and canapés and watch the race but I didn't go this year. What a great race though!

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  3. Are there any Glee fans out there? If so, did you see Tuesday's episode? Kurt was dressed up like a jockey - I wonder if that was in honor of the Melbourne Cup??

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