Spring racing has well and truly begun, and my first foray into the Caulfield Cup did not go well. Before I’d even left my garage I tripped and stuck my heel through my sheer black skirt. So after a quick change into a 1950s style floral dress, I was off again for take two.
Walking up from the underground passage into the public area was daunting – huge crowds (30,000 were estimated to be there across the day) in the shadow of the bigger members’ building at the finish line. I walked around the grassed public area and food stalls to get a sense of the day. Not being too late in the day, everybody was in high spirits, not being far into the spirits yet – if you know what I mean.
It’s a long-held tradition of the racing carnival to turn up early with your whole crew and stake out your claim on the grass with your lounge chairs, picnic blankets, and cheese platters. Caulfield Cup was no different. When I turned up the grass was covered in a plethora of besuited men, floral dresses and fascinators. It’s like an eccentric bird collector’s exotic coop – flamboyant, colourful, noisy, and bursting with excitement. Interestingly, I noticed a lot of black fascinators, a lot more than I normally see outside of Derby Day.
And the guys? Since when did the men of my generation get so good at dressing themselves? I grew up in the age of waistlines below the butt and Looney Toons boxers hanging out. These men were dapper – well fitted shirts, braces, vests! It was gentlemen heaven.
If I had anything negative to say about the public areas was that it had the overwhelming smell of everybody’s high school boyfriend – Joop cologne. The pink one, specifically. Not to mention the proliferation of Southern Cross tattoos on display. My advice: if you’re not going with a big group to enjoy the grass, pay the money for a membership or a marquee entrance. It’s well worth it just for the shade, view, and standing space.
Oh yeah, and there were horses! The TV does not do justice to how huge those beasts are. Standing outside the mounting yard is one way to appreciate their size and power, but if you really want to see it in action, I’d advise heading back along the course. I was standing right at the hedge outside the Myer Marquee for the fifth race of the day, the Caulfield Classic. As they thunder around the last bend onto the straight, I was blown away by how loud they are! After Sacred Eye won the race, Sacred Eye and I shared a moment of female glee as the commentator declared that “the lone filly of the field proves too powerful for the boys”.
Pros: Sunshine, beautiful clothing, big wins.
Cons: Too much fried food, large crowds, big losses.
Charli is a creative writer, food lover, and Harry Potter aficionada in her last year of a History degree. She is sure she will find a way combine these things one day, to great success. If not, she’ll pack up and become a bartender somewhere in the Caribbean with a fabulous year-round tan.
The Melbourne Cup Spring Carnival starts on 31 October with Derby Day, followed by Emirates Melbourne Cup Day 2 November, Crown Oaks Day (ladies day) 5 November and finishes with Emirates Stakes Day (family day) on 7 November.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Haystac and the Melbourne Racing Club.