Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dunaden the name of the horse that won "the race that stops a nation". That's the Melbourne Cup.

I've been hearing about the Melbourne Cup since I moved to Australia five months ago, as one of my clients is a sports and race betting major. It's one of the biggest sporting events of the year in Australia, with horses being flown in from across the world and a crowd of close to 100,000 turning up to watch the race.

To be honest, I've never been into the races. Maybe because we don't have too many horse races in India apart from the one in Bombay at the Mahalaxmi Race Course, and that too is known more because of the socialites and the fashion parade than the race itself. But Aussies are different - they love their sport and nothing comes between them and their sport. Except beer.

A public holiday was declared in the state of Victoria (that Melbourne is a part of) to honour the races. And the rest of Australia pretended that the race was taking place in their own town/city. Women everywhere wore dresses and fancy hats, work stopped at 2pm and pubs got flooded. The party continued well into the night even though the race was over by 3.15pm. Don't ask me why.

Our office too came to a standstill between 2-3.15pm. Pizzas were ordered, beer bottles were plonked on the table, and people started betting on their favourite horses. The more risk taking of the lot went to the betting outlet to gamble away hundreds of dollars.

The race itself was enthralling! The gallopping horses were a beauty to look at. So fit, so lean, so well cared for. And they must've been running really fast because they covered more than 3km in less than 5 minutes! It was the closest win in the 151 year history of the Melbourne Cup. Dunaden, a French horse, defeated the English Red Cadeaux by 1 millimetre! That too because she decided to stick her nose out in the end to win!

Besides being gorgeous, these horses are also pretty smart! I wonder how much it must cost the owners to maintain them. But then, Dunaden's owner won $3 million from the Melbourne Cup victory alone, I'm guessing that's enough and more to go around for the year.