Ah, Derby Day. Horses, hats and, eventually, hangovers. Or, in my case, no hangover but some mad, bad, lobster red sunburn.
Let me elaborate - for those of you not in the know ( so, anyone who isnt Aussie ), today is Derby Day. Yes, its a horse race, just like the Kentucky Derby , only the race isnt in Kentucky, its in Melbourne. Its also the day where smaller race courses around the country hold reciprocal eventas, and its one of these race meets that i've been at today. Now I'm not sure how much you guys know about race ettiquette ( and truth be told i'm no expert myself ), but traidtion decrees thatw omen pretty themselves up , men wear suits, and hats or fascinators are the order of the day. So i picked myself a dress from the 30 or so in my wardrobe, found a semi comfortable but very cute pair of open toe heels and bought a relatively simple fascinator and headed to the track. The key ingredient that i missed ? Bloody sunscreen! You would think living in the country with the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world that i would be well versed in the ways of sun protection, but the one day that i choose to go hanging about outside, swanning around and sipping on wine, i forget to coat myself in sunscreen first. Consequently i am now a nice shade of lobster red and am very much NOT looking forward to taking a shower in the morning ( sunburn +hot water = ouch! )
I am pleased to say, however, that i did not lose a packet of money at the track. I only put a bet on two races, and a very modest bet at that. I didnt think putting $5 for a win on a horse would break the bank, and who could resist putting money on a horse with a name like " Gangster in a Suit " ? Seriously? Incidentally, i've had many a conversation with my father about what we would name a race horse if we owned one - I'd go for " Ultimatum " ( classy, yes ? ) and he likes " BustaGut ".
And so, on to Tuesday, and the Melbourne Cup. Or, as we Australians like to refer to it - " The Race That Stops A Nation ". And it does - i remember being a senior in high school and having our teachers bring a tv into the classroom and halting the lesson for the three or so minutes the race was run. We did the same thing in my office last year - set up a tv where everybody could see it, watched the race coverage starting from 12 noon ( the actual Melbourne Cup isnt run until just after 3pm ) and offering the few lucky customers who entered the shop just as the race was starting a piece of celebratory cake. I usually place a modest bet on the Cup every year but i've only ever won any money once. I think i was in the 9th or 10th grade and won about $50 on a horse called " Rogan Josh ". Not a bad windfall when your 14 years old. I'm thinking of putting a bet on this year but dont go asking me for any tips - i'll scour the race guide on the morning of the race and base my decision on one of three things - the horses number, the horses name or the jockeys colours.
No need to pay attention to age, weight or race stats - just go with a good colour combination and your lucky number.....