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Melbourne Cup Day – The Race That Stops A Nation

Written by 12 November 2011 One Comment

‘Melbourne Cup’ is an age old institution and tradition of the state of Victoria, Australia. I admit, I had never heard about it in previous trips to Oz until I came to live permanently in Melbourne and heard about an event which allowed excited Melbournians to have a public holiday. I was now an excited Melbournian who got a day off… but what was this all about?!! It’s Australia’s major thoroughbred horse-racing event held on the first Tuesday of every November at the famous Flemington racecourse, which gathers an audience of about 650 million viewers worldwide and is the biggest race in the Spring Racing Carnival.

NewmarketTurf226 1024x631 Melbourne Cup Day   The Race That Stops A NationPhotograph via BetFair

The first Cup occurred in the thick of Victoria’s gold rush, way back in 1861, where the few people that successfully found gold became wealthy and thoroughly enjoyed their money by splurged at the races. It has been kept a tradition since then and this year, it attracted thousands to witness the winning horse (“Dunaden”) cross that finishing line.

But the races aren’t just famous for the horses and gambling. The fashion scene at the annual Cup has exploded into a competitive serious affair where many dress to impress and win numerous awards! Fashions on the Field began in the 1960’s and took off like a horse house on fire.

1960 Melbourne Cup Gallery Melbourne Cup Day   The Race That Stops A NationPhotograph via Melbourne Cup Carnival

My, how it’s changed since then!

Style and glamour have oozed from the event since then as expensive and/or unique outfits are worn, constantly dazzling as the years go on. Classic race wear and the most beautiful outfits are judged with epic prizes on hand for the winners, and even though the usual colour theme for Cup day is black and white, plenty of flamboyant styles come out the closet to try and vie for a prize.

melb42 1024 600x400 Melbourne Cup Day   The Race That Stops A NationPhotograph via WA Today

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As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a lot of the outfits paraded out there are either weird or wonderful, but that’s the glory of racing fashion: people watching and outfit spying. No matter how ridiculous and strange they are! With the style hungry event attracting hordes of media attention, designers and celebrities have come flocking as well making it a star-studded exciting affair to witness.

348469 sophie monk Melbourne Cup Day   The Race That Stops A NationAussie Model Sophie Monk making an appearance (top 3 photograpsh via The Herald Sun)

It is obviously advised to plan your outfit ahead and be prepared with your footwear. Heels are a must (like they should be) but traipsing around from booze champagne tent to champagne tent, the feet will suffer if you’re wearing remotely uncomfortable shoes. A total traditional aspect of the outfit has to be the hat. Many now wear fascinators carefully pinned to their locks which range from extreme designs to the artfully understated, but all in the spirit of the races.

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031109125904 Melbourne Cup Fashion005 Melbourne Cup Day   The Race That Stops A Nationtop 2 photographs via The Vine

Lynton Crabb Photography Carnival 41 Melbourne Cup Day   The Race That Stops A Nation

Lynton Crabb Photography Carnival 13 1 1024x759 Melbourne Cup Day   The Race That Stops A Nationtop 2 hotographs via Crabb

Melbourne Cup Day is said to be one of Australia’s most popular social events, especially since everyone gets a day-off regardless of whether they are attending the races, or remotely interested in them. It’s a love it or hate it event, but be a good sport. It’s a good day to dress up, swig some champagne, watch the Cup being won and try and dodge the rain. Unfortunately, some ladies are known to get  too enthusiastic on the day and burn themselves out…

550863 drunk girls racing Melbourne Cup Day   The Race That Stops A NationPhotograph via The Daily Telegraph

If you’re ever in Melbourne at this time of year, definitely go for the experience since it really does stop the nation. I bitterly lost $35 on my favoured horse, ‘Drunken Sailor’, but with a name like that, I really shouldn’t have been surprised that it lost.

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One Comment »

  • Shorty Comstive said:

    although the Cup is the occasion for a public holiday in Melbourne, it is not in other places. HOWEVER, all over Australia, there are “Melbourne Cup Luncheons” in every pub and club, and in many workplaces: an excuse for the ladies to dress up, everywhere. The Cup is a “shared experience” for the whole nation, no matter where you are on the first Tuesday in November. For a tourist, the Cup is a great time to be in Australia, even if you aren’t in Melbourne.

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