Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Expat Observations: Spring Racing Carnival

Photo by Robert Cianflone
It's currently the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne, which not only features horse racing but fashion, parties in the Birdcage and on the grounds, and lots of betting. I have been to a couple races over the years - Stakes Day in 2005 and the Melbourne Cup in 2008. The Melbourne Cup Carnival is a huge economic boon for Victoria, with $20.91 million in food and beverage, $13.67 in retail, $7.61 million in grooming and $31.4 million in fashion spending in 2014. Fashion spending included 75,000 hats and fascinators, 61,000 dresses, 59,000 pairs of shoes, 30,000 handbags, 17,000 shirts and 15,000 suits. As you can see, the Carnival is big business.

Today was the 155th running of the Emirates Melbourne Cup. Only in sports mad Melbourne would you have a public holiday for a horse race. This year's Cup was an exciting one with 100-1 shot Prince Of Penzance winning, ridden by the first female jockey to ever take the Cup, Michelle Payne. Her after race interview was refreshingly honest about the struggles female jockeys face:
"To think that Darren Weir has given me a go and it's such a chauvinistic sport, I know some of the owners were keen to kick me off, and John Richards and Darren stuck strongly with me, and I put in all the effort I could and galloped him all I could because I thought he had what it takes to win the Melbourne Cup and I can't say how grateful I am to them. I want to say to everyone else, get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world."
Max Dynamite finished second, with Criterion coming in third. Unfortunately Red Cadeaux, who finished second in three previous Cups, broke down and didn't finish the race. At this stage it looks like he won't have to be put down, but it's just a reminder of the brutality of horse racing.

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