Sunday, November 7, 2010

Melbourne Cup

Tuesday, November 2nd, is the day when all of Australia stops. Classes at uni are cancelled and businesses are closed. What is the special occasion? Melbourne Cup Day. This is the main race of the Melbourne Cup, which lasts almost the whole month of November. Various races within various states occur during the month. Not only was this my first time to a horse race, but it was also the 150th anniversary of the Melbourne Cup. It was definitely an experience to remember.
When we arrive to the venue the first thing I noticed was the fashions. Never before have I been to a place where large wide-brimmed hats or fascinators were considered the norm. It felt as though I had been transported through time back to the 20s or 30s. Some men and women looked so regal and sophisticated. Some of the women’s hats were absolutely gorgeous and seemed to resemble a piece of artwork rather than a headpiece. There was a fashion competition, Meyer Fashion on the Field, which showcased some of the best-dressed women attending the race.
Upon entering the stadium area, I realized why this is known as the day when all of Australia stops: It is because they are all at the race. The sheer number of people was overwhelming. We were in the general admission section, which meant pushing through crowds and crowds of people to find a place to stand where we could somewhat see the races. There were ten races that day total, the seventh one being the cup race. Each race was relatively short, so there was a lot of standing around in between races, but the people watching kept us occupied. At the fifth race I decided to place a bet in order to truly get the horse racing experience. We walked up the stairs to the betting area and entered what seemed to be another world. Boards were everywhere listing the names of the horses with different numbers on either side. People seemed to be speaking a different language as they handed over their money, hoping their horse would win. I get in line and listen to the pros as they place their bets. As I wait, the man in front of me put down $150 on one horse. I followed with a measly five dollars. Unfortunately my horse did not win, but it was all part of the experience.
The Cup race was probably the most exciting. It was the big race of the day, and a lot of people had money riding on it. The rain didn’t affect anyone’s enthusiasm. You could hear the pure power of the horses as they sprinted past. They are much faster than they appear on T.V. and extremely beautiful. The victor of the race was an underdog with ten to one odds. The horse, ironically, was named Americain.

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