Ten reasons why you’re not fair dinkum if you don’t go to Cup week once in your life.

November 3, 2012

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.

There’s nothing wrong with being Gai. Especially in Melbourne this Spring.

September 22, 2012

If you’re in a pub with Gai Waterhouse over the weekend, don’t buy tickets in the raffle.

You’ll stand no chance. She’s winning everything at the minute. You could buy the lot and she’d still walk out with the T-Bone tray.

Something has happened at Tulloch Lodge. It was just a few seasons back that the wheels had fallen off. Winners were hard to find.

The dazzling smile was there, but only just. What hadn’t disappeared though, was her work ethic.

It’s now clear that those in the stable put heads down and bums up. Hard yakka got them back. And some pretty handy horses.

The trainer with racing’s best hats ventured up the highway for the big Newcastle carnival during the week. Day one they knocked off the Spring Stakes, with the highly impressive Proisir.

How good is this bloke? He left them for dead in the long Broadmeadow straight. Even Gai was surprised at the ease of the victory. Not speechless, just surprised.

Twenty-four hours later, the Waterhouse colours claimed the Newcastle Cup with Glencadam Gold. An imported stayer, of course. Found by husband Rob in the UK.

Even Nash Rawiller was impressed. It’s always exciting seeing a distance horse bowling along in front, and still being there at the post.

Both winners will eventually head to Melbourne. Part of Gai’s strongest team to venture south in many years. Maybe ever.

And that prompts the question we usually hear in September. Why can’t Gai dominate over the border?

History tells us that for such a successful trainer, her returns in Melbourne have been slim.

She’s won a Caulfield Cup. No luck in the Cox Plate. Nothing from the Melbourne Cup either, although Nothin’ Leica Dane was unlucky in 1995.

Compare that to what racing’s First Lady has achieved elsewhere, especially in her home town, and it makes no sense.

There are narks out there who seem to get a kick out of it. She’s such an easy target. Always willing to put herself out there. Promoting the sport day in, day out.

This year, those smarties might be out of pocket. Because the Waterhouse team is on fire.

She has a stranglehold on the Caulfield Guineas. The winner will come from her trio of Pierro, Proisir or Kabayan.

What about the Cox Plate? The top two in the market are Gai’s favourite, More Joyous, and the superstar three-year-old Pierro.

Finally, she has some decent Cup contenders. Glencadam Gold will be well supported. Fat Al, Julienas and Strawberry Boy are being talked up.

There is confidence in the camp. The team is flying. It would be a brave punter to leave any of her top hopes out in the coming weeks.

Winning form is good form. Whether it’s Group Ones, or pub raffles. Don’t be surprised if Gai is celebrating with those T-bones by the end of the carnival.