I am a cheesy lady, and proud of it. Of course I couldn’t say $30, I had to say Melbourne Cup for 30 Bucks because it rhymes.
Now that we have chatted about the food and the fashion… lets get into the Race Day itself. The Melbourne Cup is, in my opinion, the Australian equivalent to the Super Bowl. Yes, cricket might be the national sport, and rugby may be way up there as well, but nothing stops the nation quite like the Melbourne Cup… or the Super Bowl.
Ben woke up late Tuesday morning and decided that he wasn’t going to work. Obviously, no one wants their partner to just decided not to go to work after being late, but it was Melbourne Cup day and by the time he would get to the office he would leave just a couple hours later to make it home for the races, so it didn’t make sense for him to take the hour drive in. We laid in bed discussing what we were going to do for the Melbourne Cup and searching the websites of our favorite restaurants and pubs for watch parties.
Just like the fashion that surrounds the big race, watch parties are just as extravagant. To attend a party at one of our favorite local spots tickets ranged from $70 to $125 per person. That’s before you place any bets on the outcome of the race… you’re looking at spending more than $200 race day.
Deciding that $200 was WAY too much to spend on a couple hours at a bar I snuck down to our local grocery store (Ben had no idea where I was off to) about 3 hours before race time and bought little nibbles to snack on for the race, for a grand total of $30! When I got home I told Ben we were going to a Melbourne Cup party at 2pm and he had to be ready to go before then.
That party would be held in our living room.
I proceeded to get myself ready for our party doing hair, makeup, and putting on my best “Melbourne Cup dress” (I knew we weren’t going to any parties that would require a fascinator, so I have a few more months until we attend an actual horse race before purchasing a hat).
Those Classy Aussies
As I was prepping food Ben came in the kitchen and asked me if I thought Australians were crazy for getting all dolled up for a horse race. This gave me the opportunity to get something off my chest……..
So here’s the thing I don’t get… Aussies are happy, down to earth, laid back people, I’m talking SUPER laid back… but they have these events that completely change that stereotype. They dress up, put on fancy hats, sip champagne, and yell (with class, obviously) at horses running around a track. It’s completely out of character. As an American I have never put on a fancy dress, heels, a fascinator for a sporting event, and would feel pretty silly doing it – however, I have yelled at grown men to run faster and tackle harder. The Kentucky Derby is the only event I can think of where Americans would get dolled up like that, but the derby is chump change compared to how Aussies take on the Melbourne Cup.
After a long explanation of what I didn’t understand in the Australian culture Ben proceeded to tell me he wants to take me to a ball. Eyes rolled. Here we go again with completely out of character events. But heck – any excuse to put on a fancy dress and sip cocktails and I am there!
Winning Bet: placing a bet on a horse to finish first
Place Bet: placing a bet that a horse will finish in the top 3
With an hour until the race began, Ben and I placed bets on the horses we thought would win. Each of us with $15 at hand (although I may have upped mine to $20 with 10 minutes to the jump) combed over the list of horses and their standings before determining who we would be betting on. For me it was easy, I handled the Melbourne Cup just as I do the NCAA Basketball Tournament: spend the morning reading up on the horses and listening to the expert picks. All the experts had a combination of horses #1, #3, #5, and #22 in their top 3. So my betting card looked something like this:
$5 Place Bet: #1 – the race favorite, and projected by many to win or finish top 3 easily. I was confident that he would finish in the top 3 so this was guaranteed money.
$5 Winning Bet on Each: #3, #5, #22 – if any of these horses finished first I would win $5 x the multiplier for each horse which ranged from $6 to $11 depending on the horse.
I thought it was really interesting that you could place bets online or using an app without having to set foot in a bar or pub.
It may have taken a bit longer to set up than originally planned (a late request for Sweet Potato Chips will do that to ya) but the spread of shaved meats, gourmet cheese, Quince Paste (which is amazing stuff if you have never tried it), crackers, quiche, and mini apple pies were ready to go with 15 minutes to race time.
I had not hosted a party at our house here before, but I would say that getting all the food ready at the same time in our small kitchen was definitely a test run for Thanksgiving in a few weeks… even if there were only three people at our little party.
Love food? Me too! To check out the rest of the food we ate on Melbourne Cup Day, including two desserts!, click here.
A few minutes after 3pm the race began and the horses were off! I have never really paid much attention to the Kentucky Derby before, but I determined that it’s probably because I have zero money invested in the race. With the Melbourne Cup I had money (Ben’s money) invested in the race and I didn’t want to disappoint.
For the next three minutes and twenty seconds the three of us sat on the couch yelling at those horses to run faster than they had ever run, urging our picks to finish first.
Just as the horses were pulling into the home stretch horse #1, Cup Favorite, Admire Rakti, pulled back and other horses sped up. The horse we thought crossed the finish line #6. I knew I should have picked my lucky number I thought, I was so silly not to. But then, upon closer look, it wasn’t #6… it was #5, the German horse, Protectionist who crossed the line first, and one of the horses I placed a winning bet on.
I could not contain my excitement as the only American in the room full of Aussies just won $40 from the race while the rest of the room look shocked and stunned.
Although the Melbourne Cup may not have been celebrated as most Aussies celebrate, it was absolutely perfect for us… (but I am just a little too excited that next year we are going to actually go to the race)!!
Have you ever been to a horse race or a Derby Party? What was your experience like?