Today is the first Tuesday in November, and as an Aussie knows, that makes it Melbourne Cup day. This is the premier horse race in Australia, long known as “the race that stops a nation.” (The day is a public holiday in Melbourne, but it might as well be for the whole country.) Just like the Kentucky Derby, women’s fashions are a big thing and we saw several well dressed women with hats this afternoon on their way to Melbourne Cup parties. However, at 2 miles (3,200 meters) it is much longer than the Kentucky Derby and the field is open to 3 year olds and older — which is why in recent years you can have a horse like Makybe Diva win the race three years in a row (2003, 2004 and 2005).June and I happened to be in the beachside suburb of Glenelg this afternoon when I realized it was close to the 3 pm start time. We noticed a crowd of people on the sidewalk outside the Jetty Hotel and I guessed that they were there to watch the race, so we went and joined them. Neither of us had any idea who was running in the field or who the favoured horses were, but it was fun to be part of this sidewalk throng watching the little TV screens above the pub’s bar. As the horses crossed the line, we got ready to hear the cheers from the crowd — and there was none, which we thought was a little odd. I later found out that a longshot crossed the line first in what was described as “a major upset” — and I guess no-one in the crowd had placed their money on the nose of that particular conveyance (to borrow a term from Roy and HG.) As an Australian though who has been out of the country for some time now, being a part of a tradition like this again made for a nice moment.
Tuesday, November 6