The Dude’s Guide to the Melbourne Cup Carnival

By James Warfe
26th Oct 2013

The Melbourne Cup Carnival is the greatest week of the year, and one of the reasons Melbourne is the greatest city on Earth. It's a week of horse racing par excellence, of fashion, and indulgence. It's not for the faint of heart, weak of will, or unprepared.

To help you out, we here at The Urban List have been running a series of nifty little guides to the Spring Racing Carnival. To be honest, though, these have been written predominantly by our female writers for our female readers. So what about the fellas? Where's our handbook? Where's our style guide?

Well, fear not, young squire, for I am here to guide you through this most amazing of weeks. Just follow these simple tips and you'll emerge into the cricket season with your image, pride, and hopefully bank balance, relatively intact.


Keen to be looking your dapper best but no idea where to start? Read on.

Do you own a suit? Please say yes. If not, then this week is going to start out on the expensive side. However, once you buy one (or two) good suits you'll be set, so for your own sake, don't go digging around in St Vinnies. Invest in the best and you will look and feel a million bucks.

Then, buy yourself two new shirts and four new ties. You can rotate shirts, but you can't be seen dead wearing the same tie twice. Major fashion faux pas, gents. Don't believe me? Let's put it in language you may understand: You've rocked out the same shirt-tie combination to Oaks Day that you wore on Derby Day thinking no one will notice. You're chatting to a cute young filly, things are going well, she Facebooks you and BAM, there's your selfie roll from Derby Day wearing the same gear – see ya later, cheapo.

See, #epicfail.

A handkerchief in the breast pocket is a nice touch. Make sure you pick a colour that complements your tie, but for the love of God make sure it doesn't match exactly. Nothing screams 'K-mart box set' louder than a tie-hanky combo.

Thinking of wearing a hat? Don't, unless you want to look like some sort of Bruno Mars reject from 2007. It's time to ditch the Fedora and go get a haircut.

One other rule, and this one's for life – make sure your shoes match your belt. Trust me on this one.

That's it, you're dressed, time to hit the track.

(Editor's Note: We love Godwin Charli, Calibre, and Harrolds for decking out the fellas).


The Spot

If you're braving the public lawn at Flemington for a day at the races, make sure your group picks a 'spot'. This is critical. It's usually marked by a yard post, timing tower, bar umbrella or favourite bookie, and once everyone is in agreement you're free to disperse like toddlers in a playground, safe in the knowledge everyone will come back together at the 'spot' once the rigours of the day start to take their toll.

Ignore this at your peril; everyone's heard this half of a phone conversation before: "Hey mate, where are you? Where are we? Do you see the 300 metre post? Well we're kinda near there, about 20 metres off the fence. I'm waving. I'm waving now. Ok… I'm on the esky, can you see me now? No. You see the bookies? Well we're nowhere near there." This can go on for some time, so take my advice and lock down a spot as priority one.

Having a Punt

We all love a flutter at the races, and whether you're a "two dollars each way" kind of punter, or happy to gamble your trust fund balance on each race, there are a few handy hints you should abide by.

First, if you know nothing about the horses, find someone who does. Everyone has a mate who has an uncle who knows a thing or two about the ponies, so cosy up, buy them a drink, and get your pencil ready for the hot tips.

Second, don't listen to the bookies. The Flemington Bullring is the happiest of hunting grounds for the seasoned bookie. They wait all year to prey on unsuspecting and naive once-a-year mug-punters, and when you win, they lose, so no matter how much he reminds you of your Grandad, he is not to be trusted.

Third, if you can get near them, wander around the stables and keep your ears open. There are always trainers, owners, and jockeys hanging about who have been known to say too much when they think no one is around to hear them.

Finally, just remember, if something is a $1.08 favourite, it's probably going to win. Don't try and outsmart the odds; if you want a bit of value, look at a box trifecta. You might just win back the cost of that new suit, and remember you don't go broke backing winners.


Let's be honest, not many people go to the races and plan on driving home, but the line for the bar can be a nightmare. In days gone by I would've championed the many creative BYO options available: hollow-out a loaf of bread; rinse out that empty sunscreen bottle; beautifully wrapped fake birthday presents; goon bag in the chip packet; or the false bottom esky.

The possibilities are only limited by your creativity, but there's no way I'd condone such behaviour these days. Not a chance.

The Oaks Day Sickie

Oaks Day – aka Ladies Day – aka Blokes Day – is an absolute ripper, but unfortunately the Government couldn't see itself clear to declare another horsey-holiday. To get involved you're going to have to pull the old Oaks Day Sickie trick.

This shouldn't be too hard. Cup week is a notoriously slow week for business in Melbourne. No one in their right mind works Monday, then it's Cup Day Tuesday, and everyone spends Wednesday hungover and talking about how they almost backed that 50-1 mare that got up in the sixth, but didn't. So by Thursday the week is a complete write-off and you may as well take full advantage.

Throughout Wednesday, you've managed to convince your boss that your pale complexion, hoarse throat and sickly odour are side-effects of some bad Cup Day seafood and that you "definitely need Thursday off to recover". Hello Oaks Day! But just be careful, you're not the only one with a hankering for some Oaks action, and there's a good chance you'll bump into the management team from work somewhere in the Bullring.

Getting Home

There's no escaping it – the train out of Flemington is a nightmare. Leave early, leave late, it doesn't matter. Just keep your cool, be patient, and avoid the super-drunk chick who's ready to regurgitate that bottle of cheap bubbly. You'll be home in bed, or kicking on at Revolver, before you know it.

So that's it gents. Follow these simple tips and you're guaranteed* to have a most enjoyable and profitable Melbourne Cup Carnival.

*enjoyment guaranteed, profit is another story.

Image Credit: Pinterest

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