It is spring in Melbourne and the Spring Racing Carnival has begun. Its a time when races including the famous Melbourne Cup are run and won. The Melbourne Cup is known as the race that stops a nation and is held on the first Tuesday in November each year. Melbournians even enjoy a public holiday to mark the day – yep…a public holiday for a horse race.
Now, granted its not the Melbourne Cup but, if you even have the opportunity to accept an invitation to a marquee for a Melbourne Spring Racing carnival event accept the invitation and enjoy the event.
We had such an opportunity with Alex being invited to a marquee put on by his work at the Cranbourne Turf Club. When the invitation was received, the forecast for the weekend was expected to be a sunny 22 degrees so why wouldn’t you go, even though Alex only works contract which meant we wouldn’t know anybody there. Its the races, we were in a marquee and its all complimentary….we accept! (and shortly after receive a special wristband which gets us access on the day).
Race day arrives and getting ready for a day at the races is never a quick process. I was determined not to fuss too much this year with getting ready as it doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference to the end result anyway (hmmm). Still, I made a couple of extra efforts in a mad dash and raced out the door to the waiting car where Alex has had the car idling patiently.
Cranbourne is regarded more as a country race meet and we hadn’t been there before. We have been to the larger race meets like the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup and traditionally it can be a task to get there and home again (which is generally best done by public transport) because of the crowds. The big race days also mean there is much queing to be done for pretty much everything so I anticipated that Cranbourne might be on a slightly smaller scale than all that.
First of all parking the car was a dream and a flash of our special wristbands got us waved through the main race entrance gate. With another flash of our wristband, we get waived through to the marquee which is perched nicely on the high side of the track overlooking a lawn area and beyond that the track. To our right is the main stand and the mounting yards further from that again. We sample some complimentary drinks and grab our complimentary racebook and place a few bets (not complimentary) at our private tab. Some food is sampled and we watch two races from the comfort of our elevated position. Not bad…
Now, as good as the marquee is we can’t spend all day in a tent so we head off to explore the track. We cruise over to the back betting ring, across to the mounting yard to see the horses and jockeys at close range and watch one of the races from the fence closest to the race track, near the finishing post. You can appreciate the strength of these animals only when you have the chance to get up close. Another race over and no closer to winning any money today.
We go back to the marquee for a cool drink, grab another bite, put another bet on another race and then do another stint of the racecourse. We watch the next race from the lawn area where the atmosphere is so much more tangible. Our bets today have all flunked but there is one more race to go and you never know your luck.
Our last race is viewed from the dizzying heights of the grandstand where we grab some seats. There is a male duo playing some popular songs to our left at the rear of the lawn area and it all adds to the day. Its nice to sit down and we spend time until the next race people watching and just enjoying being a part of it all.
Our last race and our last chance to recoup of losses. My last bet was a long shot and always doubtful of finishing anything but last but what do you know… it came third (last)…well, it wasn’t last.
So that’s it, Cranbourne Cup races. We had a terrific day both in and out of our marquee and on checking the entry price on our way out of the track, decided the $25 entrance fee might be worth paying for a return visit.