Melbourne Cup Trophy: Australia Stops for a Horse Race
Melbourne Cup Day - Its Nothing About the Horses
Statutory, or paid holidays are generally reserved for really important religious events e.g. Christmas or other significant National events such as ANZAC Day or Australia Day. In Australia though there is an exception: its called Melbourne Cup Day. On the first Tuesday in November the nation stops: and watches a - horse race!
For those of you who aren't Australian, the Melbourne Cup is Australia's major annual thoroughbred horse race. it is for three-year-olds and over, and covers a distance of 3,200 metres. The Melbourne Cup is run by the Victoria Racing Club, on the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. This day was traditionally only a public holiday within metropolitan Melbourne, but is now also observed as a holiday in the ACT as well so the politicians can have the day off officially.
The rest of the nation just takes their tellies to work: though these days you can of course just dial into the internet live. The race is run at 3:10pm local time which means that at least in New Zealand the drinking starts around 5pm. In Perth, in the far west, of course its only lunch time
Melbourne Cup and Drinking
You can't be a teetotaller at the races. Its illegal - at least in Austarlia, or at least very cutlurally insensitive. Traditionally Melbourne Cup was always accommapanied by a lot of beer. These days though champagn is the drink of choice. Drinking is required before, during and after the race, regardless of the outcome of you your bet
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Melbourne Cup and the Office Sweepstake
Horse racing is all about gambling. The Melbourne Cup is all about the office sweepstake - another treasured Australian tradtion. Every newspaper in the country will publish a huge liftout including every starter, their colours, their form, jockey etc, etc. The only bit that is important is the colour of the jockey - I find by choosing the prettiest colours I can invariably loose my $5 anyway and feel good about it.
Melbourne Cup and Fashion
Recently along with the drinking and the gambling, Melbourne Cup has become a bit of an excuse to dress up. Its useful because it gives the TV cameras something to look at while waiting for The Race to start. It also gives the rest of Autsralia a chance to dress up. The fashion in the field event was originally started to encourage more women to come to the races. Now its
Traditionally Australians are more into beach attire than cocktail dresses and hats but on Melbourne Cup Day you will see some quite well dressed drunks out of the streets.
At the Flemington race track the Fashion in the Field event is now huge and includes both children's and mens sections, though of course the women's fashions dominate. Thanks to the sponsors the prizes are substantial and rather sweetly its still possible for amateurs to win.
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Well the English have Ascot - but to be fair Australia and New Zealand's Melbourne Cup is built on a more democractic tradition.
Even back in the 1860's when the Melbourne Cup was first run, Flemington was one of the few times that all levels of society could freely mix. Austrlaia takes it a step further making it a paid holiday for Vidtoria and ACT and a paid afternoon or so off in the rest of the country.
While Americans may be shocked at the concept of drinking officially sanctioned in the work place: its a long standing tradition in Australia and New Zealand. Although New Zealand doesn't have an offiicial holiday they often contribute the horse that actually wins the event - a great source of National Pride.
So if you are planning on being in Australia on the first Tuesday in November at around 3pm AEDT (2pm Queensland, 1pm Western Australia, 2:30pm Darwin and Adeliade or 5pm in NZ) find yourself a pub and check out this great Australian tradition.
And even if you hate sports: the whole race takes only 2 or 3 minutes!
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More Information On Melbourne Cup
- Melbourne Victoria Australia - visitvictoria.com The official travel and accommodation site for Melb
The official travel website for Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Find out about destinations, accommodation, festivals and events, attractions and touring routes in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. This site also provides accommodation information and
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