The glamour. The celebrities. The hats. The Melbourne Cup pulls out all the stops, and The Plus Ones celebrated in style. Champagne breakfast? Check. Heading to The Birdcage? Double check.
If I had my druthers, I would never arise before noon. But the lure of breakfast sponsored by French champagne house Veuve Clicquot was more than enough to get me up at the crack of dawn. (Read: 8.00am.) All gussied up in dress, heels, and fascinator, I made my way to Mon Bijou. I’d previously been for the AnestasiA Vodka launch, but being there in the daytime showcased the views of the city all the more. TPO’s Charli and I indulged in a few glasses of Veuve and desserts from Om Nom Dessert bar (another favourite at The Plus Ones). If you want to who else was at the party, read the article in The Daily Mail. Two words: The Bachelor.
Well fortified, we made our way to The Birdcage. The most exclusive area of the Melbourne Cup, it’s home to marquees from all the biggest brands. Emirates, Myer, Lexus — they all host exclusive day-long parties throughout the Spring Racing Carnival. Last year I Birdcaged it solo, and having a friend along made it ten times better. Someone to point out the glorious fashion (and sometimes fashion failures), ogle the men’s beautiful suits (blue is such a fresh look), and take multiple Snapchats with (#humblebragging to our boyfriends = a must).
Our first marquee of the day: Wolf Blass, the Barossa-based wine company you’ve not doubt have had quite a few bottles from. Perched high above the crowds, we got great views of the bustling crowds from one side; the area where trainers exercise the horses from the other.
Inside, our guide pointed out the two custom-made Murano glass chandeliers, complemented by paintings by David Bromley (including one entered in the Archibald). Every little detail was a delight: the wallpaper was blown-up photos of the butterfly collection on the wall. The rugs were antiques directly from Wolf’s home. The showstopper: a stunning wooden horse riding game, sourced from an antique dealer in China. You felt as if you were in someone’s home: someone quite well-off who’d hired caterers for the event (the food was delicious and endless), and who owns a fully-stocked wine cellar that you could sample. Which we did, much to our delight. Every time I have a Wolf Blass wine from now on, I’ll think about our magical experience in their marquee.
But more marquees awaited! We wound our way through the crowd to the intersection of the busiest marquees. There was Schweppes, which I’d been able to get a glimpse inside last year. This time, we got to stay for the whole afternoon. The theme this year was Britain. I’ve lived in the U.K. twice and am a huge Anglophile, so this was right up my alley.
The darling DJs played great tunes and we were deluged with British food from Peter Rowland Catering: fish’n’chips, pies, all with a modern twist. And the drinks — well, Charli and I would have been remiss if we didn’t attempt to try them all. Fred Siggins, Black Pearl’s bartender and man-about-town, was on hand to mix up everything from the Flemington Fling (the signature drink of the carnival) to concoctions made with bourbon and iced tea. Each was more delicious than the last.
I’m not a bettin’ woman, but Charli knew all the best horses to bet upon. (Her main secret: go with the best names.) I took her advice and put the minimum amount down on a horse called ‘The United States’. Sadly, my fifty-cent bet didn’t pay off. But I still feel like I won. A day at The Birdcage in two of the top marquees, on the biggest racing day of the year? I’m a lucky lady indeed.
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa loves any excuse to wear a fascinator.
Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of the Victoria Racing Club, Helen Reizer PR, and Kate & Co.