Dear Racing Bosses: Keep Your Hoofs Off The Melbourne Cup Date
COVER MAKYBE DIVA'S EARS!
The three-time-Melbourne-Cup-winning queen of the track would be less than impressed to hear a leading racing boss wants to move the date of the race that stops a nation.
Racing NSW chief Peter V’landys was in Melbourne this week and burst out of the gates urging the Victorian Racing Club to reschedule the Melbourne Cup from the first Tuesday in November to later in the month, scrapping 150 years of tradition.
“It’s so close to the AFL Grand Final, you need to spread it out over a period of time and the thing that’s unfortunately in the middle of it is the Melbourne Cup,’’ he said.
Surely V’landys was horsing around?
He also labelled the prestigious race a “parent’s event”, going on to say, "like it or not, young kids these days do not want to do what their parents do" -- namely, go to the Melbourne Cup.
Sorry, what? Have you walked through the crowd at Flemington? Those comments make me think the answer to that is a big, fat no.
First thing’s first -- why mess with tradition? Move the Melbourne Cup? No way! To put it simply, If it ain’t broke…
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Plus, Melbourne is the undisputed sporting capital of the world -- not just Australia.
All year long, the glorious city produces world-class sporting events. From the Australian Open tennis in January, to the Formula 1 Grand Prix, an AFL season which attracts bumper weekly crowds (hey NRL), the prestigious spring racing carnival to the Boxing Day cricket test steeped in tradition, it’s truly a sporting bonanza.
For forever and a day, the AFL Grand Final has been played on the last Saturday in September and the Melbourne Cup has been run and done on the first Tuesday in November, so much so those terms have firmly etched their way into our sporting language. Why on earth would it be an issue now?
The Melbourne Cup consistently yields attendances around the 100,000 mark because it's truly a special sporting experience. From the well-heeled in The Birdcage who may not even see a horse amongst their champagne sipping, to the young folk in their best race wear taking in a superb day of racing on the glorious lawns, to the diehard punters who attend every year and the families and groups of friends, of all ages, who soak up all the action and enjoy picnics in the famous car park -- the Melbourne Cup is accessible for anyone and everyone. In the years I’ve attended I’ve spotted babies, cute kids in suits and hats right through to golden oldies who have witnessed 50 Cups. That’s the joy of it all.
V’landys would be better placed to worry about his own backyard and the $14 million Everest race his organisation is putting on the map. It ain’t no Melbourne Cup, but hats off to Racing NSW for building its own marquee event and reinvigorating its own spring campaign.
In the meantime, keep your hoofs off the race that stops a nation.