For many, attending the Melbourne Cup is a bucket list activity, be it for the racing itself, the fashion, or simply the history and tradition which surrounds the day. Given the masses of people sharing the same desire for a big day out, however, it can easily descend into chaos, so follow these four tips to get the most out of your day at Flemington.
Plan your route in and out of Flemington
Melbourne Cup Day regularly sees close to 100,000 people go through the turnstiles at Flemington, and while it’s a big place, that still means that there are plenty of bodies making their way to and from the racecourse at around the same time. As a result, leaving in particular is not as easy as simply wandering outside and grabbing the nearest cab - you’ll likely be jostling for spots with thousands of others. Unless you’re happy to spend hours of your day waiting to get in or out of Flemington, it’s best to come up with a plan to get there and get home before the big day arrives.
Don’t go too hard too early
Predominantly, this is a reference to betting. There are typically ten races run on Melbourne Cup Day, with the biggest of them all coming much closer to the last than the first. It’s tempting to roll up and start punting from the outset, but if you’ve got a set bankroll it’s sometimes better to ease your way into it, particularly if you want to have a crack at the biggest race of them all. Betting aside, this rule can also apply to the more social aspects of the day - it’s a long day and plenty of inebriated punters have ended up on the news for reasons they would rather forget come sunset, and pacing yourself is a good way to avoid joining that club.
Leave your tracksuit pants at home
This one is probably self-explanatory, but if you haven’t been to the races before you might not be aware of the extent to which people dress up for the occasion. In fact, it’s the same throughout the entirety of the Spring Racing Carnival, with the off-field fashion as much of a drawcard as what’s happening on the track. There’s certainly no need to try to be the best dressed at Flemington, but if you want to make it through the gates you’ll want to be looking reasonably sharp.
Try to get up close and personal
There’s nothing quite like watching the horses steam their way up the Flemington straight towards the post, and the closer that you can get to the action, the better. The sound of the hooves and the pace and elegance with which these incredible athletes move is difficult to get a grasp of on TV, and even if you’re at Flemington it can be hard to fully appreciate if you’re watching on from up in the rafters. You might have to head to the fence well in advance of a race and spend half an hour waiting there, but it’s well and truly worth it.
Attending the Melbourne Cup is a unique experience. The incredible atmosphere, tradition and of course the performances on the track make for a hugely enjoyable day, and if you follow the above tips you’ll be much more likely to get the most out of it.