Melbourne Cup 2015. Some Random Thoughts.

Melbourne cup is said to be ‘the race that stops the nation’.  Today this legendary adage came true, as the first female jockey, Michelle Payne, rode to victory on Prince of Penzance,  a horse that started with the longest odds on the field. It was a tear jerker of a race, not only to see Michelle’s sensational win, but to see the pride and joy on her brother’s face as well. Stephen Payne, who has Down’s Syndrome, is the horse’s strapper. Interviewed shortly after her win, Michelle commented,’ It’s a chauvinistic sport’. Michelle is not short for words.

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Pizza a taglio tricolore.

My father loved the Melbourne Cup and the Spring Racing Carnival leading up to it. He enjoyed a weekly flutter on the horses and had a special ‘system’ based on numbers. His flutter, never more than $5.00 or so, was to test ‘the system’ as much as anything else. During the last year of his life, his cancer necessitated admission to hospital on occasion. I recall being there with him in the admission ward, trying to fill in one of those endless bits of paperwork that hospitals demand. I asked, ” What shall I put in answer to this question, Dad?” With a twinkle in his eye, he replied, “just write down number 6, in the last race at Randwick. No one is going to check it”. He was never one for jokes during his long life but enjoyed amusing us towards the end.

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Pizza Bianca

As a dyed in the wool Melburnian, I catch Spring racing fever every year. I try not to, but it’s in the air we breathe here. It’s our Palio, our traditional holiday dedicated to a horse race. The gardens are at their best, the weather is usually temperate, and the need to party begins on this day, this first Tuesday of November, as the year marches all the way downhill to Christmas.

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Did you watch the Melbourne cup race today? Did it bring a tear to your eye?

24 thoughts on “Melbourne Cup 2015. Some Random Thoughts.”

  1. Lovely insight to your Dad’s later years. My Dad took delight in pulling jokes and kept the twinkle in his eye until quite late in his life, very endearing. I’m not a fan of the Melbourne Cup, but I don’t dislike it, just no affinity for it. I’ve tried, but it just didn’t take. I did however get a tear with Michelle’s speech, and seeing her brother there as well, very special. I like her very plain speaking, sometimes the world needs to hear that kind of talk to get the message. Thanks for your thoughts Francesca. x

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    1. I think the passion for the day comes with being a local, growing up with the day, the holiday and all the hoo-ha leading up to it. Thoroughbreds look so beautiful and pampered and their trainers really do love them dearly. I don’t often think about horses much during the rest of the year- they have become redundent I guess. And so to see these beautiful beasts on the day, obviously geared up for something they love, is a joy.
      Michelle and her brother made the day even more wonderful too.
      Thanks Ardys: your thoughts and empathy for my Dad means a lot to me.

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  2. God bless your dad, darling Francesca. I didn’t watch the race… when my first born was tiny, I worked in the telephone betting section of the TAB… saw way too much money frittered away… not to mention the cruelty to the horses… but yay to a female jockey winning… and a lovely post. xxx

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    1. You would have experienced a very personal view of the gambling industry working for the TAB, and the waste involved in gambling. As they say, ‘it’s a mug’s game.’
      Still, to see those thoroughbreds, pampered and trained for the race, so loved by their trainers, is a fine thing. Of course there are aspects of racing that are inhumane, as there are with most sports I can think of. And if racing ceases as a sport, I guess thats the end of thoroughbred horses, with a few retained on larger farms for domestic use.

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    1. Ah Jane, at last a lover of horses and the race. I have done two posts on the Melbourne cup over my blogging life and I all I can say is there aren’t many people who are fans of it- cruelty to the animals mainly mentioned as the reason. And yet I think of the enormous bonds formed between trainers or strappers and their horses. You would naturally know all this.
      The finger food is a key part of the day too.x

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    1. And Mr T and I both had a $2.00 each way bet on this race, talk about lashing out for the day, and picked up $250. Mr T never gambles, but it the fact that a woman was riding a horse with such a beautiful Cornish name was too much for him.

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  3. This ex-Melburnite misses the special feeling of Melbourne Cup Day, so many great memories growing up. But lately, I am unsure about horse racing and ethical treatment issue. On saying that, I am just loving that Michelle won and hearing her earthy and wise statements. A beautiful memory of your Dad as well.

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    1. The ethical questions that are raised do help to clean up the sport. It’s good to see more measures and fines put in place for those using the whip. Deaths do occur through injury although the overall percentage is low. And of course if this industry is wiped out, there goes the horse. Other than a bit of outback work, the horse may become redundant.
      Thanks for your lovely comment re my Dad- he somehow just slipped into the story.

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  4. Lovely story about your Dad 🙂 My old boss had similar philosophy about forms… write anything, no-one reads ’em… We usually have a once a year Melbourne Cup flutter in memory of the G.O.’s dad who loved a bet, also like him we rarely have a win. This year neither of us took an interest. At work there were sweeps, a cup function and an anti-horseracing function. I sat on the fence and did nothing. When the G.O. rang me to say a female jockey on a long shot had won, I was happy for her, and sad for me, as had I known a female jockey was riding I would have placed a bet, as would the G.O. who loves a long shot.
    As for one of the owners who didn’t want a female jockey to ride the horse, I hope he’s learned a lesson.

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    1. I love the idea of crashing an anti- horse racing function, just for a stir. There are so many issues involved on either side- I would be safer sitting on that figurative fence with you Ella Dee. Mr T and I both backed Michelle on her Prince of Pensanze and turned our combined $4.00 into $250. The lure of the longshot, a female jockey, and a celtic horse name was too hard to resist.

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  5. Yes we watched the race from up here in Queensland. Not much of a holiday up here but I remember living in Melbourne and watching the parade. I was very pleased to see Michelle win the race on that gorgeous horse. Isn’t Stevie great! Choosing #1 was the beginning of the win.

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  6. I used to love getting all ‘cupped up’ but once we moved from the city and it wasn’t a holiday, I lost momentum. Now it is gazetted I would dearly love to make a special day of it but no one else seems to be interested at all. Sadly this year I couldn’t tell you anything about cup day events, missed absolutely everything about it (I hang my head in shame). I used to plan bubbly brekkies, do sweeps, place bets (the only day of the year), make silly hats, have silly pretend horse races, have too much champagne and generally have a ball. All bloody party poopers down here 🙂

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    1. Love that term. ” cupped up” which I may have to borrow. Shame about the rain today for the Oaks Day or is that Blokes Day? My daughter in law explained that twist of terminology – the ladies get so plastered on the day and wander around the city afterwards with their fascinators askew and their heels off.
      If I had been down there Maree, I would have been in it- the bubbles, the sweeps, the phony race calls- and the little finger foody things and the whole blooming lot! Love it.
      Party poopers, all of them!

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  7. What lovely memories to have of your Dad. And what a champion jockey hey? We had a huge event here with 345 expats dressed up to the nines and we watched the race on a 15m long screen. It always gives me goosebumps and connects me back to home so I love the whole day.

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    1. Wow, I can imagine how great that expat event must have been. all the more reason to dress up when away and connect with home, via the other aussies there in Shanghai.Did you feel a litle choked up when Michelle won?

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  8. Hi Fancesca, I was so glad Prince of Penzance won. I just wish I had put some money on him after I saw the interview with Michele and Stevie on the 7:30 Report the night before the race. What a wonderful family. Australians love it when the underdog does good!!

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