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A day at the Race

Colin Deoki
Thursday, November 08, 2012

It was 1984, we'd been in Australia less than a year and it was coming up to the time of the Race that stops a nation!

One of my dreams whilst living in Fiji was to visit the home of the famous Melbourne Cup — the beautiful Flemington Racecourse.

Little did I know that one of my life's dreams was about to become a reality in the most amazing way and that our first home would be only minutes from both the Moonee Valley Race Course and down the road from the famous Flemington Race Track.

The very first job I landed in Melbourne happened to be at a Radio Station called 3DB which just happened to be, amongst other things, the premier horseRacing radio station in Victoria.

Two weeks before the Melbourne Cup, I was sent to a well-known menswear store in the City to get measured up for Cup Day. I wasn't told what the formal attire would be — just that I needed to be there. After the tailor took my measurements he began dressing me.

When he had finished and led me to stand in front of the mirror, I was gob-smacked. Here I was dressed in a Top Hat and Tails with a walking Cane to match. It was all part of the formal dress for Melbourne Cup Day in the Member's Stand of the most prestigious Horse Racing Club in Australia.

I must confess that I was more than uncomfortable wearing the 'monkey suit' I had on as I'd never had the joy of dressing in such a quaint yet formal way.

Not only was I going to the Melbourne Cup in style but it was into the Member's Stand and Marquee right in front of the Finishing Post of the most famous race in Australasia.

I had no idea what this privilege meant at the time because we were still very new to our adopted country and city but I knew that it was something that I was going to remember for the rest of my life.

Looking back on it 28 years on today, I realise that it was a moment in time that will never be lost. I was fortunate that I was able to take along my wife and two other friends. We had a ball and the atmosphere was something I'd never experienced in my life.

When the main race, the Melbourne Cup, started, a deafening roar went up from the crowd. The atmosphere crackled and hissed with an electric-like feeling. I was absolutely mesmerised with the Race and the people as they reacted to this amazing spectacle.

Since that time 28 years ago, the Melbourne Cup has grown from strength to strength becoming one of the world's premier horseracing events.

And you don't have to be a punter to enjoy the Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne. It is an event that draws people from all over the world for it's fashions on the field and of course the famous Race itself.

This amazing week-long carnival event has become an international drawcard — not only for the horses but for celebrities and even ordinary folk who want to experience what it's all about.

I'm not a punter but during the Melbourne Cup many families including ours enjoy a 'flutter' and many join 'sweeps' at their workplaces.

I hope you one day visit our fine city to enjoy the race that stops a nation.

nColin Deoki is a frequent Letter writer to The Fiji Times. He is a Fijian living in Australia. These views are his and not of this newspaper.

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