YEAR after year, there’s something decidedly alluring about the Melbourne Cup; from the sleek horses and glamorous racegoers to the glorious turn in weather, heralding the start of another racing season.
Figures from betting agency ACTTAB show on last year’s Cup day, Canberra punters spent just under $2.2m on bets.
“We’re expecting to eclipse that amount this year and see some growth,” says an ACTTAB spokesperson.
As thousands of people crowd the city’s restaurants, pubs and clubs for lunch and to watch the running of the Cup, so thousands more gather – as they have for more than 50 years – at Thoroughbred Park to celebrate the race that stops the nation, and marketing manager Briony Young says crowd numbers have “bolstered” in recent years.
“We’ve found that Melbourne Cup day has improved particularly on a corporate side, and this year, the popular Silks Room and Rich Reward Room were booked out months in advance,” Briony says.
“Last year, 7000 people attended the Cup.”
Briony says the most appealing part of spending Cup day on a racecourse is soaking up the atmosphere and social aspect.
“Take the glamour of beautiful ladies, the dapper gents in their suits and ties, add the energy of the horses, the colours of the jockey silks and the anticipation of a winning ticket – the racing is just an added bonus!” she says.
Another part of Melbourne Cup day that seems to be constantly evolving is the style stakes.
It’s estimated that in the lead-up to this year’s Melbourne Cup on November 5, Australian women will spend more than $50 million on fashion and beauty for the day.
Stylist Rebecca O’Reilly, of local millinery label Biretta and Busby, says this season women are “stepping away” from 1950s-style dresses and looking to sleek, fitted frocks that fall to the knee.
“It’s a nod to ‘Madmen’, where a fitted bodice and a bell skirt is very flattering, particularly with a cap sleeve,” Rebecca says.
“But not any of this ‘side boob’ stuff. If I might see your bra or nipple, you haven’t picked the right dress!”
By way of colour, Rebecca says it’s either crisp white or “total chaos”.
“There’s that gorgeous, clean white, which is great for the warmer weather or at the other end of the spectrum, there’s bright, digital watercolour prints, but not a lot in between,” she says.
Pastels have joined last year’s jewel tones for millinery, says Rebecca, but if you’re not sure, go for flower crowns.
“They’re one of the biggest looks of the season and perfect if you want a softer look that’s not too done-up,” she says.
Melbourne Cup Day, Thoroughbred Park, November 5. Gates open at 9.30am.
Models: Ariel Ayers and Myer Face of Canberra Racing Kate Goodwin
Stylist: Rebecca O’Reilly, Biretta and Busby
Make-up and hair: Zaija, Canberra City
Photographer: Brent McDonald