All is confusion. For the average punter anyways. Will the Melbourne Cup be a fiasco of horse flu and torrential rain? Will we be too pissed to notice?
Engraving of the 20th Cup (1881) from Wiki
1861 it began. 28 years after Melbourne began. Seventeen horses racing in a paddock beside the Maribyrnong River for a prize of 170 quid and a gold watch.
Now it's horses and tourists flying in from all over the globe, a hundred thousand peeps swanning round Flemo (Flemington) race track sipping champers and getting their high heels stuck in the mud and thousands more togged up as clowns and over-sized jockeys, barbequeing stuff and quaffing* beer in the carpark, the infamous Melbourne weather, bookies and punters shouting themselves hoarse and a very long queue for the port-a-loos.
Hard to tell what it'll be like this year, very hard. The horse flu has mucked everyone about something cruel and it's been pissing down and flash-flooding in parts of Victoria.
Archer won the 1st and 2nd Melbourne Cups but didn't compete in the 3rd one due to a paperwork stuff-up.
Jimmy Pike on Phar Lap circa 1930
Phar Lap is one of Australia's great heroes. He was the most famous horse in the world of his day and won the 1930 Melbourne Cup.
He won against some tough odds and he won in the dark days of the Great Depression, which was itself tough odds. He died in 1932 and was thought to have been murdered by American gangsters.
Phar Lap's heart weighed 6.2 kilograms. The average horse's heart weighs 4 kilograms. Thus the saying "a heart as big as Phar Lap's".
Phar Lap's death & cultural impact
Video, photos & history at the Museum of Vic
Thoroughbred Heritage.com says it for me:
Carbine's win in the 1890 Melbourne Cup was "remarkable. He set a weight carrying record of 10 st 5 lb (66 kg) when beating a field of 39 starters and setting a new race record time. He carried 53 lb (24 kg) more than the second placed horse, Highborn. On four occasions Carbine won [two races] on the same day."
"Showing little early promise, his owner, the Earl of Glasgow intended to have him shot at the age of two, despite his trainer's pleas; fate intervened when Lord Glasgow died himself".
Bit of a close call that.
Picture of Carbine
Foaled in England and owned by a South Australian fisherman. She won the Cup in 2003, 2004 and 2005. We went berserk. If I remember right the jockey jumped off the horse and into the trainer's arms and practically tongued his tonsils.
The Diva's 2005 win (Sydney Morning Herald)
Linkage for tomorrow's Cup
Offical Cup site
Master plan for picking your winners
Lazer a gun in the wet says Hayes
It's Cup week, there must be silence
Punters cavort at Flemo
Cup videos & stuff
From the Putt Putt Regatta last weekend. A pair of canopied putt putts, seen in Woy Woy Channel before the official start of the Regatta.
Quite a few of the putt putts in the regatta looked like these. They're from around 1900 I think. That old or replicas I couldn't say. Very pleasant to see a great trail of them putting along in the Regatta.
It's a lovely day here in Woy Woy. Not the sort of lovely in the photo above but a lovely windy day with gusts sighing and whispering through the trees, making its own special music, and the leaves flying about everywhere in a highly dramatic fashion.
* Quaffing. It's like drinking only you spill more. (Name that author!)