It’s about racing, not fashion
The spring racing carnival has been hijacked by fashonistas. And a motley assortment of B-listers, C-listers, gibberers, attention-seekers, hangers-on, creeps, drunks, wankers and wannabes.
I’ve never seen the fawning fashion media interrupt a Collete Dinnigan catwalk show to report the result of the fifth from Flemington. Why, then, should a racing carnival as short as an English summer share airtime with the frou-frou set?
When Jean Shrimpton shocked conservative Melbourne with her mini skirt in 1965 (the year Bart Cummings won his first Cup), fair enough. That, at least, was something approaching a real story.
But tell me about Miranda Kerr looking like “a little ray of sunshine, gliding through the David Jones marquee in an apricot silk dress by Alex Perry and floral headpiece by Sydney milliner Nerida Winter”, as a journo gushed on Caulfield Cup day, and I’ll biff you with a fascinator.
I don’t know who these people are, and I don’t know why anyone would want to. Especially now, in the midst of a spring which has thrown up some great sporting tales like only racing can.
There’s the evergreen Bart Cummings, who’s on track to become just the third trainer to win the big three spring features – the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup – in the one year
There’s a Melbourne Cup betting market in which the previous two years’ winners, Viewed and Efficient, are joint favourites – an unprecedented situation in modern times.
And there’s Dom Tourneur, the rider of third favourite Alcopop, who got into the racing game by accident, after responding to a job ad which he thought was an ad for disc jockeys.
The question is, why is the actual racing forced to take second billing? Here’s my theory in a word: sanitisation.
Quite simply, we’re all a bit squeamish about seeing the spring carnival for what it really is: a festival of gambling. That’s why we have euphemisms like “punt” and flutter” and “wager”. Bet you anything you like you don’t hear the word “bet” on Channel Seven’s Derby Day coverage.
Racing employs tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of Australians in at least a casual capacity, but we’re all a bit ashamed of it because it’s built on the back of suckers who bet and lose money.
Hey, you want to talk about money down the drain? Find me a Zimmermann frock under $600. Better still, find me any 2009 spring carnival fashion item that won’t be in Vinnies for two dollars this time next year.
People bag racing because it’s supposedly cruel to horses, but the fashion industry is one of the most despicable, exploitative industries on earth. Nike sweatshops, anyone? Starved supermodels? Suburban women with inferiority complexes?
At least racing contributes something to culture. Each Melbourne Cup is a small stitch in the fabric of the Australian story. Remember 2002, when Damien Oliver saluted the heavens after winning the Cup on Media Puzzle, just days after his brother Jason died in a trackwork fall?
Remember the three consecutive wins by Makybe Diva? Give me that any day over three frocked up Myer divas vomiting their Yellowglen on the Flemington turf.
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