Every year we’re told to remember the real meaning of Christmas, Easter and even Halloween. So it’s about time we honour the real meaning of the Spring Racing Carnival.
By the way, Halloween is a pagan holiday that celebrates the changing of the seasons, and is commemorated with tooth decay, sugar addiction, obesity and childhood diabetes. Which also happens to be the real meaning and method of Easter.
To the uninitiated, the ‘Spring Racing Carnival’ probably also sounds like a party inspired by the weather. A season-appropriate version of Halloween for Australia, where it’s all about new life instead of death, and we wear only flowers, play lutes and drink cocktails out of coconuts. Actually, that’s already a festival – known as the Sydney Mardi Gras.
Maybe those who’ve never heard of the Spring Racing Carnival would speculate that it’s an athletics meet, for humans not horses. Or that it’s a travelling flower circus, where trained daffodils do back flips, water lilies hold their breath for hours, and there’s a guy who’s tamed wild roses, and has them nibbling fresh fertiliser out of his hand.
If you did know something about the real Spring Racing Carnival, but that knowledge came only from billboards, glossy magazines and morning shows, you’d assume it was a hybrid of polo, the Great Gatsby and the Academy Awards. Attended only by royals, supermodels, the super rich. Along with yourself, if you were gracious enough to grace those well-manicured surrounds with your attendance.
If you dare to go along to an actual race day, however, you’ll discover that what’s on television is a PG version of a very R18+ event.
The Spring Racing Carnival is actually a celebration of all things bogan. Where bogans from all levels of society roll around like ecstatic pigs in their most bogan pastimes. While in the background starving midgets ride glorified greyhounds, that cost more than a house and are destined to end up in English lasagnes, with only the most successful ending up as the world’s most expensive horse hookers for hire.
Instead of seven levels of hell, at the racecourse it’s three levels of mega-bogans.
The inner sanctum are the tents in the centre of the course, populated by C-list celebrities, and those rich and stupid enough to pay an exorbitant amount to stand beside them, all pretending to chat while taking turns to snort drugs in the portaloos, and always on the lookout for someone more important.
These people are so uninterested in the races that their tents don’t even have a view of the track. Some do occasionally glance at the races on the screens that cover most surfaces, but only in the hope that they’ll catch a glimpse of themselves.
Level two is the members-only area. It includes dedicated race-goers, those pretending to be, and their friends for the day. They’re all well-dressed and probably the most honest on course – freely displaying their gambling and alcohol addictions.
Level three is general admission, easily identified by their poor attempts to mimic those on level one, but with far cheaper clothing and far faker tans. This level is all about the queues. With lines to get in, lines to get out, lines to get a glass of bottom-shelf alcohol at top-shelf prices, and always the biggest line of them all – for the female toilets. I’ve never been in there, but I assume it’s a wonderland.
Across all three levels are women who’ve spent hundreds of dollars on their dresses and often as much on their headgear – a half hat, half dream catcher known as a ‘fascinator’. They’re supposed to be a fashion item, but are actually antennas for attracting knobs: otherwise known as the male of this species, and identified by the sunglasses on their heads, despite the weather, time of the day, or whether they’re inside.
At the conclusion of every race day, those in attendance have often discarded their dignity and are strewn around the venue like survivors from a really rubbish war, amid an ocean of losing race tickets, empty drinks and ill-fitting heels. The only victors being those far removed from this scene, who have shares in the products and services the bogans have been feasting upon.
Amid all this pretend pomp and garish gloss, you can be confused into thinking that the Spring Racing Carnival does have a scrap of class or a smear of sophistication. To discover the true soul of the races, however, you need to attend one of the thousands of non-feature race days held every year.
They don’t have fashions on the field, because women at regular race days prefer leisure wear over formal wear. There’s usually not even enough women in dresses to provide the minimum numbers required to fill first, second and third.
The men spend more money on betting in each race than they have on their suits, their children’s education and their entire family’s dental care. Any winnings they do cobble together then go towards lowering their designer utes, upgrading the family jetski, or a new pair of designer sunglasses for their foreheads.
If you want to bet on a certain winner, play spot the absent father, person who’s never been to a gym, but don’t waste your time trying to spy a smile.
Similar to the big racedays, alcohol flows freely, and there’s always a crowd at the betting windows. Also similar to the feature days, it’s a celebration of excess and substance abuse. At the Spring Racing Carnival, however, gambling and alcohol have to compete with other substances including nicotine, shopping, general consumerism, and illicit drugs.
So while it’s not immediately obvious, there is something that all race days have in common. They’re a celebration of excess and addictions. Of which I share at least a few, and I don’t have a huge problem with others indulging so openly and freely. It’s just that everybody is so busy pretending that it’s anything else.
Instead of the ‘Spring Racing Carnival’ we should rename it ‘The Festival of Bogan’. Or maybe ‘Midgets Riding Future Supermarket Dinners’ or perhaps best of all ‘The Carnival of Excess and Addictions’.
I know one example doesn’t prove anything, but here’s an example of a great hook thrown by a lass in front of some of the prettiest roses that you’ll ever see. Take special note of the guy at the end, carrying two cans and shaking his head in disgust:
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.
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