Tuesday, November 4, 2014

His: Living in America - The Race that stops a nation

The first Tuesday in November is one of the most recognized and important days on the Australian sporting calender. The big event is not a football game, but a horse race called the Melbourne Cup. It is the Australian equivalent to the Kentucky Derby but attracts the attention that the Superbowl does in America. It is known as "the race that stops the nation" and it truly does as just about everyone will stop what they are doing and watch or listen to the race. While it can be compared to the Kentucky Derby this is a much bigger deal to Australians than the Derby is to Americans.

    Melbourne Cup day is a holiday in the Melbourne area and many others get the day off as well. The Flemington Racecourse, where the Melbourne Cup race is held, will have close to 100,000 attendees. Many other race courses around the country will also have races and other events for people to attend. It is a huge social event and many people look forward to it each year. It is customary to dress up and for the ladies to have extravagant hats when they attend the races on Cup Day.

As you can imagine the betting centers are very busy on Melbourne Cup day as just about everyone will have a bet on the big race, even if its just a dollar or two on their favourite horse. Another popular activity on the lead up to Melbourne cup day is something that is known as the "Cup Sweeps". They are normally conducted at workplaces and most people buy into the sweeps in the hopes of winning a few dollars. In a Cup Sweep, 24 tickets are sold for a set amount, usually $1-5 and then each ticket is randomly allocated a horse from the race. Usually first place gets about 50% of the funds, then 2nd, 3rd and the wooden spooner (last place) gets the rest of the funds. The fun of the sweeps is that it is totally random and you don't have to worry about odds and you could walk away with enough to buy lunch for a $1 investment. Here is a link to sample sweeps form.

Even if you aren't a big punter (gambler) the Melbourne Cup is a fun day for everyone. I would love to hold a sweeps at our workplace but we don't have enough employees. Even though we are unable to place a real bet on the race Amanda and I usually make our picks for the race. This year our picks are:
Sean:      Horse 3 -  Fawkner
Amanda: Horse 5 -   Protectionist

 Hopefully I have picked the winner this year. Normally my pick will finish in the top 5 but I have never picked a winner. Amanda on the other hand picked the winner a couple of years ago so I need to catch up before she is up 2-0. 


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