Melbourne Cup is New Zealand’s Cup. (Referencing Peter Montgomery’s famous line – “The Americas Cup is New Zealand’s Cup!” at an Americas Cup sailing regatta)
This race is “three-and-a-bit minutes of drama and intrigue” (google it) and for many kiwi’s it is the social event of the calendar year in the office, boardroom, workshop or whatever place you spend your days.
The Melbourne Cup introduced me to a camaraderie like no other. The seriousness of it, the posturing and attempts to be up with the play with your office mates when you pick your bets out of a hat of ripped up entries from the New Zealand Herald Newspaper. I wonder if that copy is the most bought of any in the year!
There always seems to be one person who starts the ball rolling for the betting and knows how to run the pool and how to divvy up the prize money. They are the one who pops out just before morning tea to buy the paper and cut out the horses that have entered. They also check if any horses are scratched from the race and then they go around and collect your $1, $5 or more per bet, depending on how enthusiastic or serious they are about the great race. The rest of the paper is shared around the lunch table and people read up to see if the horse they have picked at random from the hat has a hope or not and people try to look and sound most knowledgeable as best they can and frown, and tut tut about their horse and attempt to be so serious about the race knowing that their attempts are all in vain knowing full well that it is just a bit of fun to try and be part of the “club”.
Come the time of the race you sit there and wait and wait then the office comes to a grinding halt and the world around you stops with bated breath. At this point the “office” might actually be at work or might it might have moved to the nearest pub where there is a huge screen in the corner and a proper TAB office available too. The serious punters have placed their bets and the rest of us are in good spirits sitting there enjoying it in our own way. Watching the race in a bar in Herne Bay, Auckland years ago was so much fun; as an observer of people and personalities it was wonderful but even more so if you got into the swing of it too!
Back to that eerie silence of your colleagues and bar patrons breathing in hushed tones, the race starts. We become privy to a world we are not normally connected to (if you are like us); a playground for the horses and jockeys to become one, doing their very best, against all odds. It is almost like Chariots of Fire – that slow motion feeling of what’s going to happen, what might happen, who will win? Will it be your horse, the one you know nothing about but at this point in time you are gunning for it with all your might? There it goes – it might just be a winner, flying with the wind, but no… it just peaked, and is now on the back foot, slipping down the field as you sigh in disbelief. Some people are so keen for their horse to win having analysed every aspect of their horses grandmothers cousins aunt’s best friends son’s DNA and have checked out the jockey and the trainer and their entire history too, while others are just as keen for their horse to win, clueless to the max if it has a chance or not. Everyone could be a winner, as in the Melbourne Cup anything can happen.
One little horse race does so much for relations and spirits. It brings everyone in the workplace closer for a moment, it also brings two countries together for an afternoon of fun, laughter and tears and fortunes which could be won or lost in a split second. The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s most famous horse race, held on the first Tuesday in November each year, with a tonne of history that brings out the glad rags and bubbles, whether that is top shelf bubbles or what beer is on tap; or a dress that is posher than you would wear at a royal wedding and a hat that is the size of a garden umbrella, and your best Redbands (farmers gumboots). It is a day to remember however you celebrate or participate in it.
Rogue Pony want to share our Melbourne Cup day with you, so here is it –
“Jockey, Our Rogue Pony and Bubbles and all”. Enjoy!!