There are some things you have to do before turning your toes up.
Sing a John Cash song in public. Go to an Eagles concert. Swim on the Barrier Reef. Have a beer in an outback pub. And go to Melbourne Cup week.
I consider myself blessed. All five boxes ticked. Those who have had to listen to the singing bit might suggest other holy terms.
At the top of the list, is the Cup carnival. Not just the first Tuesday in November. It’s much more than a day.
It’s been a decade since we soaked up the Melbourne magic. But I remember as if it was yesterday.
Six of us, having an absolute ball.
Do I hear doubt on the other end of the line? Are you not convinced? Let me give you some examples of why there is no better fun to be had standing up.
The locals are happy. Even with all of us there. They love Cup week. For the most part, they don’t mind sharing.
The build up starts days earlier. You get to go to Derby Day to warm up. The best racing all year. With 100-thousand others.
You can go to that Chinese restaurant we found that has karaoke upstairs. Around the corner from that pub. If you’re a little rowdy, like we were, they’ll let you have the room to yourself. And the fridge.
It’s ok to be a little dusty the next morning, because everyone else is. Breakfasts are big and tasty. Recovery comes easier on a full stomach.
You’ll attend the best sporting lunch in the land. Any one of five. Sunday after Derby Day. You’ll hear Simon Marshall, or Miracle Mal, or Shane Dye, or one of the Freedmans, or Mighty Mick Dittman. There’ll be a phantom call, and you’ll cheer. I bet you win some racing gear in the raffle.
Monday is a rest day, of sorts. Watch the magnificent parade. All the old winners. Horses, jockeys and trainers. Keep an eye out for the joy on the faces all around you. Melbourne does a parade like no other city.
Cup Day. Early start. You’ll be crammed into a train, and get a tip in the first minute. Don’t forget it.
You’ll have your first drink at 9am. Like everyone else. If the beer isn’t cold enough, you might have to have one Bundy and coke. Just the one. And no-body will think any less of you.
You will win, at some stage in the day. Enough to get back to that Chinese restaurant. We’ll take the upstairs room again thanks.
Tuesday night, there’ll be a nice little pub with a band playing. Some of the old stuff. People will tell you hard luck stories. For the only time all year, you’ll offer genuine sympathy.
Every chance you’ll fly out on Wednesday. Battered, but triumphant. Unless you’re one of the truly lucky ones, who gets to stay all week. My heroes.
Need any more convincing? Of course you don’t. I can hear you booking your trip now. If not for tomorrow, next year. What fun we’ll have.
All that’s left now is to sip that beer in the dust, do some reef swimming, and join in an Eagles sing-a-long. I’m assuming you’ve already belted out Ring of Fire in front of your mates.
Happy Cup week. And don’t forget – there’s a special edition of Hold All Tickets this Monday morning.
A truly unique look at the race that stops the nation. Detailed form for every runner. Some made up. Essential reading for anyone who needs to pretend they’re an expert on Cup Day. Don’t miss it.