, , Leave a comment

A highlight-moment of my Cup-day happened surprisingly early, at 6.45am in fact, when my cabbie picked me up from home… in my heels, fascinator and all. He asked me how my night was, as if I was making my way home from a Cup-Eve bender (??!!!!). Okay…. not ‘exactly’ the so-hot-right-now look I was going for, but I think he can be forgiven based on the fact I was one of the earliest-prepared women in Melbourne for the Cup. It all made a little more sense to him when we swung by to pick up my equally prepared friend Kim (who needed me to stab 6 bobby pins into her fascinator and scalp before we left… I think it gave her an unexpected & welcome mini face-lift at 7am!) – and off we went, all the way through to the Crown Palladium valet drive – to meet our fellow-frocked early-birds! Honestly we felt like we were in that commercial for Crown stepping our high heels out of the taxi, past Prada, and up the steps to the grand entrance. Ha!

Frock Watching

Walking into the Crown Palladium lobby we were stunned by a sea of feathers and block-colouring… fresh foundations, wedge-heels… clutches, perfumes and champagne  – oh my! The crowd at the SportsetHolidays annual breakfast were up & about in a big way for 7.30am…. the room’s conversation hum (from the hundreds of guests) was intermittently pierced with squeals, giggles and enthused stories of Cup-days gone by. Walking the lobby was simply surreal… summing people’s smiles and outfits up as quickly as they were summing mine. We were all winning (luckily)… the ‘people watching’ on a day like Melbourne Cup at a venue like Crown Palladium is simply worlds-best.

The excitement when the doors were opened to the Palladium room was almost as if the gates had just opened for the horses at the track! “…And they’re off!” What a spectacular scene. Melbourne may be known for its hole-in-the-wall alleyway breakfast cafe’s… but the grandeur of a Cup Day breakfast with 500 giddy guests is just something else. Once the our MC got started we quickly realised we were one of a very few Melbourne locals in the room…. and let me tell you, there’s something extra special about a room filled with fellow-aussies who have travelled from interstate on a journey to the nations sporting capital on the same dream… to back the winner of The Cup!



After some brilliant food and guest speakers (including Dr. Turf, racecaller extraordinaire, and Ray Selkrig, winning jockey of the Melbourne Cup 50 years ago) I was excited to hear Rob Cecconi (Sportsnet Holidays founder) launch the Sportsnet Foundation helping bring opportunities to children… keeping them on the right track, a great concept we were all happy hear about and support.

Fashions Off the Field

It wasn’t long before we started one of the highlights of the morning…. ‘Fashions Off the Field’ – a spectacular show of 15 breakfast guests in their race-day best (including me and Kim!). This was a fun-filled show hosted by the renowned fashionista Bec Maddern… I was SO nervous about walking a catwalk runway right down the middle of the Palladium room but Bec and the other contestants made it so much fun – a very tongue in cheek approach as you’ll see in the video (you might recognise my ‘blue steel’ look at the start of my walk … a guaranteed show stopper). It was brilliant to have an opportunity to win prizes including a hotel experience at Crown and a gorgeous Opal from Lightning Ridge Opal Mines… Kim was lucky enough to come second place (based on the trusty audience applause voting system). I told her it was the bobby pin face-lift id given her… so I’m pretty confident I’ll be her plus one when she claims her prize at Crown!

And they’re off!

Before we knew it the entire room of guests were all escorted out to the coaches and were making our way to Flemington – happy to be seated behind a gorgeous couple who had just won a trip to Fiji at the breakfast (I think they phoned every person in their address book to share the news of their big win… without even placing a bet on a single horse!). Our full bus was absolutely buzzing with excitement and why not – when we parked our coach among hundreds of others and made our way towards the Flemington gates the feeling was just surreal – welcome to history in the making. Smile, you’re on camera. I even noticed our female bus-driver doing a quick change out of her uniform and into a frock and hat for the day (no-one misses this race… for anything). Classic.

So the excitement within the gates is just next level… bookies, hot chips, champagne, dress ups, glamazons, fashion fails – something to see in absolutely every direction. From the Navy seals to the Buck’s party (men in animal print suits, see pic)… and the dress-up jockey’s to the girls in business shirts and, well, not much else – the fashion fabs and fails were like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Jaw dropped non-stop.

Now they tell me it’s mainly about the horses but – as far as I could tell – the Melbourne Cup is about likeminded people getting together to have a good punt and a great time …. So many smiles and laughs, it’s like it’s everyone’s birthday party all at once!  The airing of the race-horn had an old-school excitement about it…. then there were a few screams and hugs throughout the day on big wins – but the main race made this a ‘day for the bookies’ with the favourite nowhere to be seen (that damn omen bet on Americain… more like Amercan’t).

Regardless of not winning thousands of dollars the day just gets better and better as the hours roll by unexpectedly quickly… a concentration of so many people having the time of their lives in one spot on the planet at one time – wow, what a sight…

My first Melbourne Cup experience of many… I can’t believe it took me 28 years to get there in the flesh but I’ll say one thing for sure… see you on the rails at Flemington in 2012!


Leave a Reply