The Race that Stops the Nation – will you be there? – Story and pictures by Marie Pietersz

The Race that Stops the Nation – will you be there?

Story and pictures by Marie Pietersz

Marie Pietersz



The Melbourne Cup – The Race!

The Melbourne Cup – The Race!

Melbourne Cup Grand Stand

Melbourne Cup jockeys

Melbourne Cup mounting yard

Melbourne Cup the big screen

The AFL and NRL finals have been played and won and our distracted sporting minds now turn to the next activity on the social calendar, the Spring Racing Carnival. We drag our attention away from the fierce barracking for our favourite teams and players to following the best horses vying for a place in the unmissable event, the world famous Melbourne Cup, run on the second Tuesday of November each year.

Punter or not, you will be affected by the excitement of it all and no doubt have a a bet on the day, based on form, a tip, a name, a number, a jockey, a trainer, whatever reason you have for wanting to pick a horse to win. Then, for a few minutes in the afternoon of 7th November 2017, as the world looks on, some 100,000 people will watch live the running of 24 or so of the best Australian and international stayers in a race run over 3,200 metres for the biggest prize money in Australian sport, the A$6.2 million Emirates Melbourne Cup, the winner claiming a 18ct solid gold trophy valued at A$175,000.

Most of the rest of us who don’t make it to the track will find a way of celebrating this holiday our own way, attending back yard parties or club luncheons to have a flutter on a sweep and enter the race day dress competitions. But when the 7th race is run, for three-and-a-half minutes, the country will grind to a halt. Some may dare not to watch it, but they will dare not turn away. As long as there is an audio or visual device, be it a smart phone, tablet, computer, radio, or, television, I dare say everybody will stop whatever they are doing, wherever they are, to watch this iconic race and history in the making.

For those of you who have never been to Flemington, take your house parties to the races this year and join in the explosion of colour, action, excitement and celebration which is all part of the Melbourne Cup – smell the roses, walk (or sit) on the hallowed turf, watch the bands, spot the celebrities, be amused at the outrageous dressing or be wowed by the fashions on the field. There is nothing like hearing the thunder of the hooves as the stayers race past the winning post, and then the erupting of the cheer as it goes up and can be heard for miles around. The unique sights and sounds will stay with you for ever.

Get rid of your race anxieties – don’t blame the transport, the costs, the time or the clothes for not going there. What once upon a time may have been problems preventing you from being track side, now isn’t – they are just myths which can be dispelled.

On race day, most all roads lead to Flemington and public transport services provide seamless travel. Train commuters will be able to get off at the track, or you can travel by car, limousine, charter, taxi, bus, helicopter, boat or cruise ship and arrive at the race course. The entrance cost is more reasonable than you expect and the rest of the spend is your choice, whether you bet a little or bet a lot or bet nothing at all. You don’t need to get frocked up either – outrageous is ‘in’ and your choice of dress is all part of fashions on the field. Food and drink are in plentiful. International chefs will turn out their delicacies if you are lucky enough to be in one of the corporate tents or birdcages, but, hey, there is plenty of hunger and thirst quenchers to be bought around the track if you feel like leaving your picnic baskets at home.

A day on the track at this iconic event is a unique chance to watch history in the making. There is something about being part of the action as it unfolds and join the champagne drinking, hors d’ueuvre nibbling, head turning, fist thumping, nail biting, seat gripping, cheer raising crowd and making new memories with family and friends . Some people have it on their bucket list to do, and you have it right here in Melbourne. Get to Flemington, it’s easy and it’s a ‘must do sometime’ thing, so just do it. Life – be active!

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