If you everything you knew about the Spring Racing Carnival came from television, you’d assume it was a hybrid of polo, the Great Gatsby and the Academy Awards. Attended only by royals, supermodels, and the super rich.
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 that’s a celebration of all things bogan.
While in the background starving midgets ride glorified greyhounds, that cost more than a house and are destined to end up dying ungracefully, as happened this very past Melbourne Cup Day. Or if they’re very lucky, the horses end up as the world’s most expensive 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 with such a long queue of glorious looking but inebriated women, 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 and ill-fitting suits.
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. Then prepare to be truly horrified.
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian
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