Vic­to­ria’s Rac­ing Fever

All eyes are on Mel­bourne this month for the world-fa­mous Mel­bourne Cup, writes Jenny Burns.

Where Melbourne - - Contents -

VIC­TO­RIA IS IN THE MIDST of a great party—the Spring Rac­ing Car­ni­val. As well as cel­e­brat­ing the feats of mag­nif­i­cent thor­ough­breds, the car­ni­val fea­tures all the es­sen­tial el­e­ments of a great party.

There’s the chance to get dressed up in your finest (or in the case of some events your most bizarre out­fit), en­joy great food and wine and gen­er­ally just have fun.

Of course, this also usu­ally means spend­ing some money! It’s es­ti­mated those at­tend­ing last year’s Mel­bourne Cup Car­ni­val pur­chased 295,397 in­di­vid­ual fash­ion items in­clud­ing 49,067 pairs of shoes, 46,448 dresses, 11,659 suits and 59,665 hats and fas­ci­na­tors. They also spent $23.6 mil­lion on meals, food and bev­er­ages and $45.2 mil­lion on bet­ting.

Sim­i­lar figures are ex­pected at this year’s Mel­bourne Cup Car­ni­val, which starts on Satur­day 4 Novem­ber with AAMI Vic­to­ria Derby Day and fin­ishes on Satur­day 11 Novem­ber with Emi­rates Stakes Day.

Run at Flem­ing­ton Race­course, the Mel­bourne Cup Car­ni­val is re­garded by many as the spring rac­ing high­light with the Mel­bourne Cup (this year run on Tuesday 7 Novem­ber) the stand­out event.

It’s known as ‘the race that stops the na­tion’ as al­most the en­tire coun­try stops to watch the race at 3pm. In Mel­bourne it’s even a pub­lic hol­i­day.

Dat­ing back to 1861, the Cup leaves an im­pres­sion on all who at­tend. In 1895 Amer­i­can writer Mark Twain wrote of his ex­pe­ri­ences: “They come a hun­dred thou­sand strong and they pack the spa­cious grounds and grand­stands and make a spec­ta­cle such as is never to be seen else­where.”

While lit­tle has changed over the years in terms of the pop­u­lar­ity of the Cup, there have been some ma­jor changes. The 3,200-me­tre race is now one of the world’s rich­est, of­fer­ing A$6.25 mil­lion in prize money. More and more in­ter­na­tional horses are a fea­ture of the race thanks in part to Ir­ish trainer Der­mot Weld who, in 1993, was a win­ner with Vin­tage Crop. Since then horses from Ger­many, Ire­land, Ja­pan and France have won the race.

In­ter­na­tional horses are again ex­pected to play a ma­jor role in this year’s Cup. How­ever, a word of warn­ing—if the horse you fancy is in

bar­rier 18, be­ware! No horse has won from here since bar­ri­ers were in­tro­duced in 1924. Bar­ri­ers five and 10 have been the most suc­cess­ful over the past 25 years, with four wins apiece. But then again omens are made to be bro­ken. No fe­male jockey had won the Cup un­til 2015 when Michelle Payne rode Prince of Pen­zance to vic­tory.

While the Cup is the best known of the races dur­ing the car­ni­val there’s also great rac­ing on all other days. Derby Day is widely re­garded as one of the most pres­ti­gious days of rac­ing in Aus­trala­sia. There are four elite races in­clud­ing the $1.5 mil­lion AAMI Vic­to­ria Derby, Australia’s pre­mier stay­ing classic for three-year-olds.

The Kennedy Oaks, held on Thurs­day 9 Novem­ber, at­tracts the top three-year-old fil­lies with $1 mil­lion in prize money up for grabs.

Rac­ing on the fi­nal day of the car­ni­val in­cludes the $2 mil­lion weight-for-age race, the Emi­rates Stakes.

Al­though the horses are the undis­puted he­roes of the Mel­bourne Cup Car­ni­val, the ac­com­pa­ny­ing fash­ion frenzy at­tracts nearly as much at­ten­tion and is of­ten just as com­pet­i­tive! Men and women alike rel­ish the op­por­tu­nity to dress in their finest race-wear.

Myer Fash­ions on the Field at Flem­ing­ton is one Australia’s largest and most pres­ti­gious out­door fash­ion events. This year men and women are com­pet­ing for prizes worth $250,000. There are awards for the best men’s and women’s racewear as well as prizes for the best de­sign and millinery. Even young­sters get in on the act with awards for the best dressed ju­nior and se­nior boys and girls.

Tra­di­tion dic­tates black and white is the go on Derby Day. Like all the four days it also has an of­fi­cial flower—the blue corn­flower.

Fash­ions on Cup Day range from the classic to ex­otic to to­tally out­ra­geous. Hats are es­sen­tial. The flower for Cup Day is the yel­low rose.

For many the fash­ion stakes are at their high­est on Kennedy Oaks Day, also known as Ladies Day. It’s the day when women of all ages come to­gether and cel­e­brate fem­i­nine el­e­gance. This is the time for ro­man­tic looks and del­i­cate fab­rics. A pink rose is the flower of the day. On the fi­nal day of the car­ni­val, Emi­rates Stakes Day, it’s the time for young­sters to take cen­tre stage with the judg­ing of the young fash­ion awards. A red rose is the flower of the day.

All Fash­ion on the Field com­pe­ti­tions are based at The Park, a 10,000-square-me­tre area within Flem­ing­ton which is free for all race-go­ers. A two-storey space has been built espe­cially for the com­pe­ti­tion. It fea­tures dual run­ways, al­low­ing spec­ta­tors and judges a 360-de­gree view of com­peti­tors, beauty sta­tions al­low­ing for ‘makeup touch-ups’ and a bar.

Nu­mer­ous other restau­rants and bars are also calling The Park home dur­ing the car­ni­val. The Park is also the venue for a num­ber of lo­cal mu­sic acts and DJS. There are also plenty of ac­tiv­i­ties for young­sters, espe­cially on Emi­rates Stakes Day.

The Mel­bourne Cup car­ni­val is so pop­u­lar that tick­ets are lim­ited and must be pre-pur­chased, visit mel­bournecup.com/tick­ets for more in­for­ma­tion.

While the Mel­bourne Cup Car­ni­val takes cen­tre stage in Novem­ber, there are many other great race days dur­ing the month in­clud­ing a num­ber of coun­try race meet­ings. As well as of­fer­ing some fan­tas­tic rac­ing these meet­ings are also great fun. There are great horses to watch, lots of good food and wine and plenty of en­ter­tain­ment.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the Spring Rac­ing Car­ni­val visit springrac­ing­car­ni­val.com.au

Pa­trons ar­rive at The Park on Mel­bourne Cup Day at Flem­ing­ton Race­course on Novem­ber 1, 2016 in Mel­bourne, Australia. Photo: Getty Im­ages/getty Im­ages for the VRC.

The Mel­bourne Cup tro­phy is on dis­play on Emi­rates Mel­bourne Cup Day at Flem­ing­ton Race­course on Novem­ber 1, 2016 in Mel­bourne, Australia. Photo: Getty Im­ages/getty Im­ages for the VRC. Ker­rin Mcevoy rid­ing Al­mandin cel­e­brates win­ning race 7, the Emi­rates Mel­bourne Cup on Mel­bourne Cup Day at Flem­ing­ton Race­course on Novem­ber 1, 2016 in Mel­bourne, Australia. Photo: Getty Im­ages/getty Im­ages for the VRC.

Hugh Bow­man rides Le Ro­main to win race eight, the Can­tala Stakes on Derby Day at Flem­ing­ton Race­course on Oc­to­ber 29, 2016 in Mel­bourne, Australia. Photo: Getty Im­ages/getty Im­ages for the VRC.

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