My mate declares Melbourne Cup Day a religious holiday.
He worships Flemington. Has the day off very year. Wednesday too. For as long as I can remember.
We have had some of our most enjoyable days on the first Tuesday in November. The laughs never end. And yes, cool drinks are had.
Sometimes we’re at the track. Or at lunch. That turns into dinner.
We’ve been to so many places over the years I’ve lost count. Wonderful fun, each and every time.
It’s also a day that produces stories that even I find hard to believe. Success, and hardship, and sheer bloody bad luck.
We drew Viewed in the Cup calcutta one year. Actually had it in our hands. And gave it back. How could Bart’s wet tracker win?
I stood and watched that day, in ever increasing horror. I couldn’t hear Greg Miles, but I knew those colours. Closing in with every bound.
He won, of course. It cost us thousands. We just looked at each other, shook our heads, and eventually, laughed. Once we got to the bar.
Another year, my mate declared Efficient as his bet of the day. Reckoned it couldn’t be beaten. I thought he was mad.
He won, of course. His celebration involved spilling a bucket of red wine on anyone within cooee. They took it in good humour. I think.
That same day, we jagged a trifecta in the last. It was worth a heap. And we lost the ticket.
There was a mad scramble, checking tables far and wide. Staff at the track were inspecting bins for us. Nothing.
I had to go to an office, and fill out a form, saying we were the dumbest people on track. It meant we would get paid, after 3 months. Not that we needed the cash at that minute. Much.
I came out, to find my mate laughing. He does that lots. The ticket was in his pocket. The one he hadn’t checked. It was the longest 3 months of my life.
It’s the beauty of Cup Day. Everyone will have a story to tell. Whether you’re at Flemington, or Doomben, or the local surf club, or the staff canteen. There’ll be winners, and losers, and hard luck stories.
Make sure you celebrate it. Even for just half an hour. If the best you can do is have a plastic cup of champers, so be it.
It’s an afternoon that is so uniquely Australian. No other country comes close. That roar we make when the gates open, is truly something to savour.
Good luck with your bet. For what it’s worth, I think Mount Athos will make up for last year, and get the prize. With Dear Demi as a big threat. But you’ll remember, I haven’t had a decent win on the Cup since Kiwi. When half of you were in nappies.
Enjoy the day. Watch out for flying reds. And don’t lose your ticket.