So first off I’ll start by saying a bit of a disclaimer about all the negativity around horse races: I know some people have very strong opinions and they are valid/true to you. If you would like to educate me further please feel free to contact me. The fact of the matter is I did attend the races this year and I had a great time. I’m sorry if this offends you in any way so maybe skip this post. And my personal opinion is that if you are not a full on vegan I don’t necessary think you are practicing what you are preaching…just saying so think about that before passing judgement.
I bought my ticket to the Melbourne Cup before I was even in Australia and that was solely because Taylor Swift was announced to perform. For X, Y, and Z reason (was it really scheduling conflicts or was it the backlash is up for debate) she pulled out of performing shortly after announcing. I kept going back and forth about even going. In the end I decided to go for the simple non-reason of “why not?” I also really wanted a chance to scope Melbourne out. My first trip here a few years ago was such a whirlwind so I wanted to spend quality time in the city.
Okay on to the races…
The Melbourne Cup is a race out of a four part series of races that as a whole are called the Melbourne Cup Carnival. I just attended the main event on Tuesday, but it technically starts the Saturday before with a Derby Days event. There are also simultaneous races going on in other parts of Australia. It’s a huge ordeal and people take it very very seriously. It’s a public holiday for goodness sake. I however, wasn’t taking it that seriously. I went in with the mindset of just having fun and could leave at any point. The weather really held out in our favor and it was a beautiful, warm, sunny day. The Saturday event was cold and rainy so everyone was in good spirits all day, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
First thing first, I needed something to wear. I didn’t have a proper gown to wear and wasn’t planning on shelling out the money for something I would wear once. I looked up rental companies and unfortunately Rent the Runway hasn’t made it to Australia just yet. I read that people went all out for the event, but given that I was traveling for three weeks with one suitcase I couldn’t bring some kind of gown or anything that took up too much space. Before leaving Sydney I went to the Bondi Markets with getting a dress on my mind and I saw this red dress instantly. I had a feeling this was the perfect combo of classy, but easy and it happened to fit! I snatched it up and was planning on pairing it with my brown sandals. Very simple and most importantly I would be comfortable. I also brought my leather jacket in case it was chilly when the sun wasn’t shining.
Up until the morning of the races I was planning on going solo, but in the midst of making pancakes in the kitchen of my hostel I met someone who was also going. We got fancied up and were off to the races! Arriving by train the travel to Flemington couldn’t be easier. My first impression was that there were so many people and they were dressed to the nines. All looked absolutely fabulous in the latest fashions and high heels (but also realize high heels and grass probably not the best combination). There’s a race every 35 minutes from early morning. The biggest race was at 3pm. I know absolutely zero about races and these also seemed different and more intense from anything I’ve ever seen in the States. I went with the guidance of my buddy and also just kind of winged it with betting small based on horse names. At the end of the day I was down $40 AUD, but that’s okay.
There was so much to do at the Melbourne Cup beyond just the races. They had a Bumble booth, an area for hair/makeup touchups, music, a ton of food and drink options, and more. It was honestly such a fun day. The sun was shining and the drinks were most certainly flowing (hello personal Prosecco bottles). As the day went once the heels were coming off, people were being escorted out, and characters started coming out of the woodwork so much so that shortly after the main race I decided to cut my losses and beat the rush for the trains and head out.
Would I go again? Maybe with a group of friends to share the experience with, but I would also be content with my Melbourne Cup experience ending on this high note.