Fine fillies and fun at the Melbourne Cup

Sophie Smith

While nabbing the perfect spot at the Melbourne Cup can be quite the challenge, getting up to the bar can be an equally grueling task.

Melbourne Cup racegoers on the public lawns at Flemington have been unperturbed by bar queues of up to an hour.

Punters young and old have waited up to 60 minutes to order plastic bottles of sparkling wine, cans of beer or spirits all while remaining in fine and merry form under a sunny spring sky before the title race.

"Some bloke just skipped the cue and I bought him something," said one young man.


The trick seems to be to order large at the public bars each time, with many balancing multiple beverages in each hand.

"The secret to buying is if you purchase wine first let your friends go second. I needed a beer as well but they wouldn't let me because I had already bought two wines," one filly explained of the maximum per person service allotment.

"Get as much as you can."

People waited for up to an hour to be served alcohol at the race. Source: Sophie Smith.
People waited for up to an hour to be served alcohol at the race. Source: Sophie Smith.

Keeping beverages cold is another challenge. Some have cooler bags to return to, or stubbie holders at the ready, while others have adopted a more simple philosophy.

"Drink them quickly!" advised one couple that spent an hour in line to buy four cans and a bottle of wine between them.

"You've just got to keep queing. Four at time and I won't be buying any more!"

Many racegoers set up a picnic and went barefoot on the green. Source: Sophie Smith.
Many racegoers set up a picnic and went barefoot on the green. Source: Sophie Smith.

Everyone from first-time Irish tourists to jovial aficionados was generally happy with the service and set-up picnic rugs trackside, amongst the smell of hotdogs, green grass and cigarettes wafting through.

Spirits were also high in the Birdcage where media personalities, reality television celebrities, sportsmen and politicians sauntered between marquees, quaffing French champagne and fresh oysters.

The Emirates marquee was the place to be and at times at "capacity" with some guests temporarily turned away.

Inside there was room to move for foreign minister Julie Bishop, who, while always working, was able to reflect on her first Melbourne Cup day experience as a teenager in the nursery.

"It's an exciting day wherever you are here," Ms Bishop said. "It's an international day because there is so much focus globally on the Melbourne Cup."

GALLERY: Jennifer Hawkins was radiant in a beautiful bright dress.
GALLERY: Jennifer Hawkins was radiant in a beautiful bright dress.

GALLERY: Melbourne Cup Best Dressed

Radio funny man Andy Lee was equally business orientated, cracking a joke from outside the Swisse marquee where he was asked about his inaugural Cup day.

"Similar to [superstar DJ] David Guetta, I was flown in by helicopter. I played a sweet DJ gig, this was back when I was 16 or 17, a child prodigy, so bit different these days. I now just have to hang out in the Birdcage," Mr Lee said.

Actor Dan McPherson remembered his first Cup experience.

鈥淚 was 18, I loved horse racing, there were free drinks, I was in an ill-fitting suit. I turned around and [Olympian] Tatiana Grigorieva was right next to me and I just thought, 'this is heaven,'" he said.

"I've been coming back pretty much every year since and actually last year I spent the day with [racehorse trainer] Lee Freedman and we ended up buying a horse at the end of the day, so things have changed.

"It was inspired by a little bit of James Boags," he added of the purchase.