Tuesday, November 6, 2012
I am no gambler or follower of the neddies but like most Australians I do watch the Melbourne Cup on TV. It is a great occasion that generates a lot of excitement. The ladies all get into hats and fascinators and glam up generally and the men place their bets.
I didn't do too badly. I know nothing about form so I go into sweeps only. And one of the horses I got in a sweep came third. So I think I am ahead on the day.
Anne was off to a fancy ladies' day at the Sofitel (once known as the Sheraton) so I looked like viewing the race at home on my own. As it happened, however, Jenny had resigned her job a couple of days ago so was free to come over and join me. Most people I know were working or out of town.
Jenny and I had a very restrained cup party -- with watermelon and freshly squeezed orange juice instead of cakes and champagne. I guess we are getting old.
It was a very exciting race with the winner coming from well behind but ending well ahead. The cup is like that, though. I was rather pleased that it was not a photo finish this year. Last year was so close that I would have been inclined to call it a tie, or at least a draw.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall were in attendance and the Duchess presented the cup to the owner. Both seemed to be in good form.
I noticed that the jockey made the sign of the cross at the end of the race. I wonder if anyone will criticize that? They would be well advised not to. Any cup winner is close to God in Australia.
I also like to have a look each year to see who won the "Fashions on the Field" prize. It's said to be Australia's richest fashion prize. Ladies as well as horses compete at the Melbourne Cup. And the fashions are always wearable, unlike the monstrosities that appear on Paris catwalks etc. The winner this year, Lauren Andrews, has been competing in such events for about 5 years so the prize this year went to a stayer. That is she in the middle below
I can't really see what's good about the outfit but what would I know? Someone who appears to know informs us: "Ms Andrews purchased her winning outfit more than a month ago, a navy-and-neon-yellow tweed pencil dress with a half peplum on the waist, from British label Erdem. Her winning pleated headpiece was by Melbourne milliner Kim Fletcher... she backed some of the day's most popular trends: neon colours, a fitted pencil silhouette and a peplum ruffle."
At great risk of political incorrectness, there is one small thing that I noted during the hour or more that I was watching the events at Flemington: I did not see one black, brown or East Asian face. So it was one of the last holdouts of the old Australia. And having the Heir to the Throne present (Australia is still a monarchy) certainly underlined that.
The absence of East Asians was a little surprising. Not only are the Chinese great gamblers but they generally fit in seamlessly with our traditions.