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A race stops the nation

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Saturday, 18 November 2017 00:00

The second Tuesday in November is the day that ‘a race stops the nation’. It’s the day when the Emirates Melbourne Cup – the country’s foremost race is held. True the race is run in Flemington in the State of Victoria but the whole country comes to a halt. There is big betting everywhere. So is the camaraderie – pubs overflowing with revellers. They crowd round big screens and TV sets to view the big race. 

It’s not just a race where horses, jockeys, trainers and owners take pride of place. There is so much of colour, action, excitement and celebration. 

Gates opened at 8.30 in the morning. The first race started at 11. Last race was at 5.20 in the afternoon. In between was the Big Race – the star attraction. 

One TV channel – Seven News – started broadcasting at 10 in the morning and continued non-stop till 6 in the evening. The viewership was estimated at 750 million people from 163 nations and territories. While the sponsors led by Emirates got value for money with promotional ads, there were other advertisers making use of the opportunity to create awareness of their products and services.

Apart from the races there was plenty of activity throughout the day. Colourful fashions – both female and male – were aplenty. They were constantly featured and interviewed. There were competitions, winners selected and rewarded. 

There was delicious food and drinks plus bands playing music. 

It’s an occasion when celebrities representing different activities make their presence. Among the Aussie sports superstars were Olympics swimming champion Ian Thorpe and tennis champion Llayton Hewitt. 

Generally acknowledged as the world’s most famous race, it is valued at AU$ 6.25 million. Run over 3,200 metres, the Melbourne Cup offers the richest prize in Australian sport – an 18 ct gold trophy values at AU$ 175,000. 

The print media gives wide coverage, particularly the weekend newspapers just prior to the race devoting several pages discussing the participants – horses, jockeys, trainers and owners – and of course, tips for the punters.     

While the day’s activities are reported in detail, media devotes a lot space to discuss the aftermath of the race. 

“Punters celebrated the race that stops the nation in traditional style. Flemington was awash with hilariously messy behaviour,” nws.com.au reported. 

“The Melbourne Cup has not failed to live up to its reputation for drunken debauchery, with revellers flashing their undies, falling over and brawling on the grass. Three people were evicted for bad behaviour and two were arrested for drunkenness, while security guards removed four other intoxicated patrons. Police arrested a woman for assaulting an anti-racing protester outside the ground and are searching for two other women linked to the assault.”

It carried a series of pictures of the ‘messy behaviour’.

‘The Border Mail’ reported how “human limbs flew everywhere as those who overindulged staggered out of Australia’s biggest racing event.” The report described how one racegoer, the knees of his beige suit covered in grass stains, was on all fours while his friend jumped on his back and mounted him like he was riding a racehorse. His cries of elation drew curious looks and laughter from the crowd pouring out of the Flemington racecourse.

The paper then discussed how the debris of the mammoth party attended by more than 90,000 racegoers is cleared. 

“Nobody likes the clean-up after a huge party, but Craig Lovett and his brother Paul relish in it. For 32 years, they’ve stood amongst the chaos and carnage and spearheaded clean-ups for some of the world’s biggest sporting events.

Their company Incognitusis has led the clean-up campaign for the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne.

Between them they’ve managed the clean-ups at Formula One Grand Prix races around the globe and the last seven Olympic and Commonwealth Games but there is none bigger than Derby or Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington.

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