"The bloke In a “Hilarious” Costume." The Melbourne Cup Carnival, 2008.
So you’re off to the races today: what to expect.
Well, other than a magnificent horse race and some stirring and portentous poetry from the Channel Seven commentary team (truly, no one does a slow-motion montage better), chances are - especially if you’re a female, lone or in a group - you’ll meet some of the many men of Cup Day.
To prepare you for these inevitabilities, as a formerly dedicated Spring Racing attendee, I’ve prepared a little list so that you can keep an eye out for the blokes you may (read: definitely will) run into at Flemington (or a race courses pretending to be Flemington today.)
"The Pretty Nice But Maggoted Dude." Melbourne Cup, Flemington in 2005.
The Hideous Sleaze
This drongo will almost certainly be wearing those poo-scooping squared-toe winklepickers of your nightmares, so if you are sweeping the grass while attempting to avoid eye-contact with your fellow punters, at least you can give him a wide berth when you spot his footwear. He’ll come equipped with a pickup line, or - depending on his vintage - may even attempt to “neg” you (fun!). He’s all up in your personal space and ignores your body-language (which after 30 seconds in his presence will be at Defcon: Furious Cat At The Vet). If you are blessed with the ability to projectile vomit on cue, now might be the time to dazzle him with your skills when he asks “What are you into, baby?”
The Pack Of Blokes In “Hilarious” Costumes
You know the ones: they all come in Mariachi gear, or dressed as Gumby, or as an impending sense of crushing existential agony. Fortunately, despite the fact that they move in packs, these bros are usually so thrilled by their own hilariousness that they are unlikely to bother you.
The Pretty Nice But Maggoted Dude
Your horse might have turned around and cantered the other way, but CONGRATULATIONS, it seems an amateur has claimed the handicap on your heart! We’re Australian, so the chances of meeting Someone Nice while intoxicated fall somewhere between “high” and “scientific inevitability”. If this is the case, swap numbers and agree to meet up at a later date when you’re less harangued by the seething, drunken masses. Or grope each other in a rose bush, whatever, I’m not your mum.
The Cheeky Chappie
This Hans Moleman-looking fellow tends to hang out in the betting ring, or anywhere he can get a good look at the horses. (He used to be found on the green near the stables, before equine flu demanded that the steeds rise up from the underworld via a concrete-covered series of tunnels, so his habitat has been displaced.) It’s possible he once saw Phar Lap race, and he will chat to you all day about the odds, his favourite jockeys, the time he had wun at eleven with Bart Cummings, and so on. He will provide you with tips and a moment of old-fashioned chivalry in a sea of odiousness, so enjoy his company. Unless he tries to squeeze you on the bum, in which case kick his walking stick out from underneath him.
The Guy Wearing His Girlfriend’s Fascinator
You’ll meet this guy on the train/tram on the way home. Typically he has swapped an item of clothing for the fascinator - perhaps his girlfriend, or girl friend, is wearing his suit jacket or shoes - and will provide you with literally minutes of conversation pleasure as the public transport lulls him into an intoxicated, VB-scented stupor while he regales you with stories of “some dickhead” he tried to “smash” outside the Birdcage and how he “glarrgens” some “ffnnnnhhhghh” at “bssspphh” and “zzzzzz”.
Bonus points are awarded if you spot or meet any of the following:
The Girl Carrying A Sauce Dispenser Around As Her New Accessory
True dinks, I saw this at Derby Day one year: evidently she’d forgotten to put the large, catering-sized dead horse (sorry) dispenser down after getting some hot chips, and instead carried it around like it was the most fashionable minaudiere. Since the Derby is traditionally a more subdued affair than The Cup, it stands to reason you may see this creature on the big day.
Johnny Letts With An Antenna On His Helmet
You may see Australia’s favourite ex-jockey trotting around interviewing winners for the folks at home. Extra bonus points are awarded if it looks like his horse is “interviewing” the winning horse, too.
An Actual Famous Horse
One year I met Subzero, back when he was working as the clerk of the course’s horse, and there’s a photo of me standing next to him looking utterly thrilled and about five-years-old. I include this because at the end of the big day, when you’ve lost faith in humanity and the smell of crushed grass and rapidly curdling cocktails is mingling in your nostrils, at least we’ll always have PONIES!!!!