Am I the Only One Who Doesn’t “Get” the Melbourne Cup?

Image courtesy of the Victoria Racing Club and Getty Images

I really don’t understand all the fuss about the Melbourne Cup. I really don’t.

I’ve been pondering lately how a 3 minute horse race manages to “stop the nation” every year. I suppose it has something to do with it being drummed into us almost from birth!

Throughout my entire life, the Melbourne Cup has been revered and worshipped. I remember each November at my Catholic primary school, we would be taken to the school hall to watch the big race on TV. We would have “sweeps” (I don’t believe a lot of money actually changed hands though!), discuss the jockeys’ colours and pick our favourites – this went on through to high school as well.

Despite the annual fuss about it all, I still really don’t get why it’s quite so important. Why companies pay millions of dollars to fly celebrities out here to spend a few hours in an exclusive marquee. Why we blow millions of dollars at the TAB. Why we get frocked up at dodgy venues just to watch a 3 minute horse race in between drinking cheap wine and telling complete strangers that we love them…

Here are a few reasons why the race does absolutely nothing for me:

1. I have never been to a live horse race in my entire life.  The closest I ever got was going to the greyhounds one night with my Dad, sometime in my early teens. Believe me, there was nothing glamourous about going to the local dog track, in winter, at night, in your trackies with a bunch of middle aged men…. Maybe if I went to the race itself and got frocked up, with champers in hand, I’d feel differently. But for now, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

2. This may shock you but I am not considered a fashionista.  I try to look good but I’m busy and don’t have the discretionary income to buy $200 dresses when the whim takes me. Besides fashion magazines bore me to tears, all they are are glorified catalogues containing endless advertisements of things that I could never afford anyway. So the fashion side of the cup and the discussion around the style of fascinators or the size of hats or the length of skirts doesn’t really do it for me.

3. I am not at all interested in betting or gambling.  I remember in my late teens/early 20’s going with my friends to the local bowling club on a Saturday night. After having a few drinks, dissing the band and laughing at the antics of other drunk and unfortunately dressed patrons, we would play the pokies. I would be bored witless in a matter of minutes. The lights, the music, the repetitive action of pushing a button never gave me a thrill – it just made me sleepy! Same with placing bets and picking winners – the gambling side of the cup leaves me rather cold.

4. The timing of the race is highly inconvenient for me.  As a working mother of school aged kids, the Melbourne Cup is always on at the wrong time. 3pm on the first Tuesday in November will usually find me literally running to the school to pick up Matilda so I can drag her back home before Gilbert gets dropped of at home so we can then all pile back into the car to collect Delilah from daycare.  There isn’t much time anymore for me to sit back for 3 mins and watch anything, let alone a horse race.

5. I always get the raw end of the deal at work. As the only person who seemingly doesn’t get the allure of the big race (I’m the one who never attends cup related functions) I am usually the one holding the fort back in the workplace. This Tuesday, I will be the only person from my entire work unit in the office. Granted most of my work unit are based in Melbourne and will be on a public holiday, but I will be the only one present from my local team. I plan to crank up my ipod, stay busy and sneakily try to nick some food from other teams’ afternoon teas on my way out at 2.30pm!

Am I seriously the only one in Australia who doesn’t get it? If you share my bewilderment please let me know so I don’t feel out of sync with the rest of my countrymen. If you do get it, can you please explain what I’m missing?


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31 Responses

  1. Miss Pink says:

    I am also completely disinterested in the Melbourne Cup. I don’t get it. All that hype for something that lasts 30seconds? Boring.

  2. The Flying Drunken Monkey says:

    I admit that I do like the frocking up and the event side of things but I struggle with the actual race side. It seems so wrong what they do to the horses.
    Plus I’m really not a fan of gambling. I put one bet on the race each year and try to “control” how much my husband bets. He knows to control himself too as he could crazy if let loose. He doesn’t bet at any other time, used to do lotto each week but has stopped that now. It’s just so dangerous.
    I liked on Gruen Planet a few weeks ago where The Pitch was to make Australians not like The Cup anymore. One focused on where the money spent could be going instead and the one that won focused on how it’s ingrained from us from a young age and what problems it can cause.
    So yeah I wish we could have the same sort of event without the horse race or the gambling.
    The Flying Drunken Monkey recently posted..{Bloggy Love} – Super Organiser Mum

    • Kirsty says:

      When I look back it is quite shocking to think how ingrained it is from a young age! I remember watching it as a very young child at school, a catholic school, at that! I don’t think there is any other event so tied into gambling that is so universally thrown at young kids. I’m not a wowser by any means but it doesn’t sit well with me. I’m glad the race is now run a bit later so kids don’t see it at school!

  3. E. says:

    I don’t really get the Melbourne Cup either. Maybe its because I’m not interested in fashion and dont drink much. I did enjoy the social aspects when i was working in an office though. To even if I was interested the time sucks for school pick up and for some reason it’s pouring with rain at school pick up time.
    E. recently posted..Write On Wednesday #20

    • Kirsty says:

      If it’s going to rain it will always do so at school pickup time!

      I used to enjoy the social afternoon teas for the cup at work but I don’t even enter sweeps anymore as I’m never there to watch the race and collect any winnings. It just doesn’t fit into my day anymore…but that’s cool with me!

  4. katepickle says:

    I don’t get it either… well I get the fact that lots of people like to go watch a horse race but I don’t understand why it is a public holiday? Not that I am complaining about a day off school lunches, but I can think of a lot of other better ‘days’ to declare as public holidays besides one that seems to celebrate gambling and drinking….

    And as someone who used to work quite close to Flemington Race Course…. Spring Racing Carnival sucked in general.. especially Oaks day with all the drunk semi clad ‘ladies’ puking in the gutter out from of our preschool….
    katepickle recently posted..I Heart My Body…. mostly.

    • Kirsty says:

      I really don’t know anything about the history of the race or racing in general but i’d be interested to know why this race in particular is so important.

      A public holiday is nothing to sneeze at whatever the reason! We have a dodgy show holiday in March each year – I take the day off gladly but have never been to the show yet!

      I can only the imagine the sights you would see at the end of a race meeting after hours in the sun drinking and gambling…”ladies”…noice…!

  5. Sara says:

    I totally agree with you, I don’t get it either!

    I grew up in semi-rural environments, I’m used to seeing horses being ridden and I do like horses, but definitely do not enjoy watching horse races where the animals are pushed to the limit for the benefit of some rich person.

    I hate gambling, I find it quite boring too, no thrill in it for me as I hate things that are out of my control!

    I understand the social part and that many ladies like getting dolled up etc, but I just don’t get the inconvenience of catching overcrowded public transport to an overcrowded event, sometimes in the scorching heat sometimes in the pouring rain, where all you’ll be doing is essential drink and make a fool of yourself or be witness to most unladylike/ungentlemanly behaviour.

    I agree with you, I know people that don’t like the races, but they will still stop to watch those 3 minutes. So I think some of it is definitely due to having it drummed into our heads from a young age.

    I really should stop leaving huge rants in my comments on other people’s posts…
    Sara recently posted..Melbourne Museum and a rant about "disabled" toilets

    • Kirsty says:

      I hear you Sara – while a part of me wouldn’t mind going to the races one day and getting dolled up, I don’t think the reality would be that special. Wearing uncomfortable shoes, drinking more than usual, spending too much money and getting burnt in the sun don’t really strike me as fun things to do! BTW, I love reading ranty comments, don’t feel you have to stop writing them on my behalf!

  6. Zoe Paige says:

    I agree with ever single point. Sadly for me, the Finace thinks he is some kind of horse whisperer and talks about horses [and greyhounds] and says ‘RACING’ all the time. UGH.

    • Kirsty says:

      Thankfully, for me, my husband is as uninterested as I am in racing. I feel for you, I hope you get through the Spring Carnival okay!!!

  7. Hi Kirsty. I’m not a fan of the all the hype of the Melbourne Cup event itself but I do love the horse race. I was raised in a horse racing area and can appreciate the training etc that goes into having a champion race horse. I love going to the races as well. I really can’t stand the bandwagon jumpers that come out every Melb Cup. I’m just interested in watching the horses. In saying that I’m going to a luncheon at my daughter’s school. The first time I’ve been to a Melb Cup function in years.

    Anne xx
    Anne @ Domesblissity recently posted..Pinning & Singing – Children’s school friend & teacher Christmas gifts

    • Kirsty says:

      Thanks for your insight Anne. It can be easy to forget all the work that does go on behind the scenes, not just for this race but for all others as well. I guess I’m still trying to establish why this race, above all others, merits all this hype… Having said that, I do hope you enjoy your luncheon at your daughter’s school!

  8. I am another one who hates the Cup. Don’t mind the lunch banquet that is put held in it’s honour though.

    In fact, 9 years ago, I was sacked from my job the day after Melbourne Cup, thus ending my I.T. career for good…

    For this event, I like to cite Henry Rollins’ drollery on gambling: “I equate gambling with being an asshole”. ‘Nuff said.
    thesoundandthefury recently posted..The Stone Roses re-unite!!!

    • Kirsty says:

      I’m all for the afternoon tea and lunches etc (I am serious about partaking of some goodies on my out of the office on Tuesday!) but I’m still wondering why it is such a big deal in the first place! And Henry Rollins often speaks the truth….’nuff said!

  9. Tat says:

    I don’t get the Melbourne cup either. To me it’s a celebration of gambling. But then I’m not Australian.

    • Kirsty says:

      I’m Australian and I don’t get racing or gambling at all! I’m glad though that I’m not the only person unimpressed by the hype surrounding the Melbourne Cup….it was absolutely everywhere last week!

  10. Alice says:

    I totally agree with you Kirsty! Not sure if you caught the Gruen Planet from last week, where The Pitch was to get rid of Melbourne Cup day. The whole thing to do with gambling puts me off too, and I also most certainly am not a fashionista. I just put on what’s clean and comfortable! Great posts!
    Alice recently posted..5 musical activities that you can easily do with your kids

    • Kirsty says:

      I didn’t catch that episode of Gruen Planet but it is ridiculous how much hype surrounds one single horse race.

      I ended up being sick on Melbourne Cup day so didn’t get into work but it meant I could dress in my daggiest at home clothes as no-one was going to see me – definitely more comfortable!

  11. Ms_MotorbikeNut says:

    Even though this post of yours is from last year I must say our family isn’t interested in the Melbourne Cup either & as for the saying It’s The Race That Stops The Nation that is a out right lie.

    As hubby has always worked on Melbourne Cup and has never got to see it being raced or even heard it as all his jobs he has had over the years the companies weren’t interested in it.

    Also our daughter A still gets taught at school (here in QLD) none of the teachers through her early childhood years. primary years & now high school years have ever stopped teaching and said ok kids we are going to watch a race now as it’s only 2pm up here in QLD when its raced.

    Once in all my years of schooling in New South Wales (early 70’s to late 80’s) can I remember a teacher ever letting a class watch a race except for 1 teacher and that was it.

    So in our family it really hasn’t been bread into us that the Melbourne Cup stops a nation

    (((( Hugs )))) XXXX Kisses XXXX

    • Kirsty says:

      It really doesn’t stop the nation, does it? Certainly won’t be stopping me in the middle of the school run tomorrow… 😉

  12. When I used to work in an office, any opporunity to skive off work! Doesn’t matter at all to me now though 😉
    Janet aka Middle Aged Mama recently posted..Hooray for H&M in Australia!

    • Kirsty says:

      I never minded the afternoon teas and the opportunity to watch the TV, legitimately at work, but I don’t miss it either!

  13. Corey Xu says:

    Yeah I don’t like it either, to me it’s just a load of non-sense, all the young men and women dressing up like fools to get drunk and end up spewing up all over the buses and trains. People think it’s ‘classy’ but really it’s an event for cashed up bogans, looking for any reason to party and disgrace their families on national TV

  14. Sarah says:

    I agree on every point you mentioned. I even asked myself if I’m normal. My cousins loved it, and I don’t. Good thing I’m not alone.
    And yeah, I hate gambling!

  1. November 2, 2015

    […] few years back I wrote a post about not getting the Melbourne Cup. And 4 years later I stand by my original […]

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