blogging, Community

Searching for the Silver Lining to Horse Racing and Halloween

It is the race that stops the nation.

The Melbourne Cup Horse Race is the richest and perhaps the longest horse race in the world.

Held on the first Tuesday in November, in Melbourne Australia, almost every Australian participates in some way in a Melbourne Cup lunch and associated community “sweepstake,” – usually for the benefit of charity.

viking horse

Melbourne Cup Day Events

If you live in Melbourne, Race Day is a public holiday. Excepting essential workers, everyone in Australia, no matter the location, downs tools and stops work completely at 2pm AEDST, to watch this two-mile-long horse race.

Everything comes to a standstill.

Whether you are in a shopping mall, speaking with a lawyer, or in a hospital waiting room, someone will rig up a TV or more often these days, cast their smartphone to the nearest TV set and gather to watch the race unfold.

Everyone gets into the spirit of the event, even if you are not usually a gambler.

Melbourne Cup Day Sweeps

Every workplace rigs up a makeshift sweepstake for Melbourne Cup day. This consists of small strips of paper printed with each participating horse’s name. One name is purchased and randomly selected by each sweep participant, for $1-$5. Then you watch the race to see if your horse wins. If it wins, you get a portion of the total prize money collected, or it gets donated to charity.

The event is an excuse to drink champagne with friends and party, although it is harder work for a horse. It’s a long race. If a horse happens to break down in the race, it is curtains for them and sometimes for the jockey. Horse racing is a dangerous sport.

There’s a gradual tide moving against horse racing generally, especially from the animal liberation and vegan thinkers of the world. I partly agree with their mantras, but in a country bereft of traditions, this is one community event that I do like to be involved in, for its collegial community spirit.

This contrasts and possibly conflicts with my attitude towards Halloween and the community antics detailed below, but the Melbourne Cup has the added benefits of supporting many sporting clubs, community groups and social clubs who use this race as an opportunity to fund-raise for their ongoing activities.

The Mount Mee Tennis club was one such group.

Melbourne Cup Race at Mount Mee

With a good dose of country hospitality and home-cooked food, my walking group attended the event a 40-minute drive west into the lush dairy country.

Not only were we entertained by a fashion parade, the local school children performed, sang and danced to a live audience other than their Mums and Dads! There were ticketed raffles with lovely prizes and the cup sweepstake complemented a delightful lunch and morning tea. All the funds went to aid the local tennis club. Fantastic.

Conviviality is a word that springs to mind. Civilised is another.

With more than 150 people in attendance, it’s a huge fundraiser for a small country town and micro-economy. One local proprietor had, prior to Covid, operated a fashion boutique in the town. She now operates in her home but has sorely missed the input of passing trade. The Melbourne Cup Lunch was a chance to showcase her products and bring in external sales. Many ladies purchased garments, me included. I enjoy supporting small businesses doing it tough post-Covid. Without the Cup Race day, I would never have encountered this shop.

That’s the silver lining to this horse race. If charitable horse racing events and gambling thereon are entirely banned, the knock-on implications to sporting and social clubs and community mental health are immeasurable.

Humane Horse Racing is viable. Isn’t it?

Halloween in Australia

Recapping my approach to Halloween, I was looking for the silver lining to this event.

How it played out:

The younger children wearing delightfully cute costumes were extremely well-behaved. It was indeed the convivial community atmosphere some of my readers had alluded to. The little ones had their Mums or Dads, in tow.

I was almost coming around to the positive side of the Halloween concept compared to my previous misgivings.

Apart from a few small children carrying such LARGE backpacks for their spoils. Not to mention one parent that pushed the boundaries trailing behind his progeny dragging an esky (read: chilly bin/cooler), on wheels, that I am pretty sure was NOT for holding beer.

There is always one in every crowd, I reminded myself.

After 7pm, the tone of the trick or treat mob significantly diminished.

The neighbourhood degenerated and not in the bestest way. In retrospect, I could have erected a notice like one neighbour saying – “Halloween free zone – No trick or treats!”

But I did not want to be that person.

In the same way that cane toads gather on the grass after a thunderstorm, teenagers gathered in groups on my front lawn. Busily filming TikTok segments or posting selfies to social media sites.

Why they chose my garden to do it, remains a mystery? There were no treats to be had at my house. Perhaps they were attracted by the darkness as my lights were out? {As had been advised in the community code if you are NOT participating in Halloween}.

It bemused ourselves to see teens posting video reels on their smartphones, with accompanying commentary such as, “Help. I have been abducted by aliens….” – and sarcastic me jokingly wishing they might be so lucky.

These Peter Jackson hopefuls never realised their clickbait claims might be questioned.

Why?

Little did they realise that in the background of their TikTok video was a semi-retired woman busily watering her Magnolia bushes. Yes! Probably not the most convincing look for a claim that aliens were holding them captive.

Not at all Alien Photo by Kha Ruxury on Pexels.com

The teenage antics continued amidst a backdrop of revving, throaty V8 engines and several motorbike riders with grunty, pimped-up exhausts. Hell-bent on impersonating Meatloaf from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, perhaps?

One resident, in the know, revealed on Meta that carloads of kids were being dropped off nearby. Word had gotten around. There were highly decorated houses worth a look, with potentially high-grade Halloween booty! Before long, there were screams and car-horns tooting to the melody of teenage panic.

A flock of 12 or more scantily clad females in black bikini tops and black bat wings attached to their backs, ran amok in the centre of my, usually quiet, street. I had to muster the strength to maintain concentration on my broccoli Quiché and salad dinner, as the noise and chaos sorely tested my resolve.

Perhaps the bikini girls’ costumes were mimicry of Van Helsing’s Angels of Death/aka bats?

Who knows if there was even a plan? The flock were manic, riding high on adrenaline. For a few tense moments, I thought one of them would indeed be hit by a car!

Vindication they were a bit crae-crae came when a twelve-year-old boy was disturbed enough by the sight of the Van Helsing flock of bikini-clad ‘bats’, he approached my door, saying he hoped I didn’t think he was associated with them. I didn’t.

Shortly after, I was bailed up just three steps outside the front door. And I was only making my way outside to dispose of our dinner’s detritus!

A contingent of 12-year-old Halloween hopefuls spotted an adult [me], emerging from a house holding a bucket. Executing a swift 90-degree turn into my yard, they sensed potential Halloween loot in the offering. Making a bee-line for me, bags extended out in front they were desperate for more sugary loot.

I was to prove a big disappointment.

Instead of ‘packing’ free lollies, I was ‘packing’ vegetable clippings – destined for my compost bin.

“I have only got carrot peelings, apple cores and a withered lettuce leaf – for the compost,” I explained, re-directing them next door. Surely they were too old to be chasing lollies, anyway?

One neighbour trying to settle her twins at the cranky hour had completely forgotten it was Halloween. Given Halloween is a relatively new tradition in Australia, they were just caught up parenting and wrote this on social media.

I rather liked her karmic approach:

We didn’t have time to run out and get any treats. Sorry! We had no decorations up and our front lights off. We received about 10 or so knocks on our door. Each one interrupting the hectic twin crazy routine. We were polite, patient, understanding and said sorry each time. Most took this well. A group of young boys of around 13/14 years of age including one quite tall boy were clearly annoyed that we didn’t have any treats. He swore or muttered something under his breath as I closed the door.

These boys proceeded to knock on our door and run away several times after this (maybe as pay back?) and then smeared some kind of yellow coloured sauce or something all down the side of our car we had parked out the front. You can imagine that it wasn’t a pleasant experience for me, my partner or our two [twin baby] girls who by this stage were over tired and having tantrums. So, many thanks to these boys. My wish for these boys is many, many toddler tantrums in your future. Oh, and that when you plan to start a family you end up with twins or triplets – you’ll have fun! ~ Facebook post

P.S. I didn’t win the Melbourne Cup Sweep, but it was fun. 💀👻☠️👌🏽

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15 thoughts on “Searching for the Silver Lining to Horse Racing and Halloween”

  1. The Melbourne Cup. Hmmm. You’re quite right about the trickledown effects; but this year’s was fairly rare in that no horse had to be put down.
    Halloween. VILE. A chance for all the kids to destroy their teeth faster.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Succinctly summarised, M-R. All horses passed the finish line empirically in good shape. One hopes that any responsible parent ensured a thorough cleaning of teeth after the night’s nefarious activities. Did you attend a vegan celebration?

      Liked by 2 people

          1. “Nutritional value of protein

            The nutritional value of a protein is measured by the quantity of essential amino acids it contains.

            Different foods contain different amounts of essential amino acids. Generally:

            Animal products (such as chicken, beef or fish and dairy products) have all of the essential amino acids and are known as 'complete' protein (or ideal or high-quality protein).
            Soy products, quinoa and the seed of a leafy green called amaranth (consumed in Asia and the Mediterranean) also have all of the essential amino acids."
            

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  2. Neither of these pastimes for me. Most horses that can’t race (win money for their owners) end up as pet food. As for Halloween, replace the sweets with snappy sticks of celery or apples, almonds and chestnuts.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve never even heard of the Melbourne Cup, but whenever I read about or witness events like this I get a bit sad, simply because so many of our English/British traditions have been diluted or lost completely. I reckon we must have a lower number of such celebrations where just about everyone joins in than anywhere else in the world.

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        1. Indeed. You are right though, it is sad when traditions fall by the wayside or are replaced by shallow artificial ones without real meaning.
          And state funerals are a thing now in Australia, for any Grade A or B celebrity. Can we really afford them? Are they necessary? Olivia Newton John has not permanently lived in Australia since she was twenty something and was British born! She was given a state memorial service.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I do believe it is possible to have horse races without hurting the animals. I was involved in endurance riding for a few years, and there was always people who hated on the endurance world. The people I met and how they cared for their horses however is something I have not seen elsewhere. Those horses were so well cared for.
    I am glad you got to enjoy your race and that no horse was injured. BTW the Norwegian horse at the top is very cute. I’ve always thought that I would own a Norwegian horse as an adult, but so far it has not happened (even though I’ve had horses of many different breeds in my pastures though the years.) Growing up one of my best friends had two Norwegian Horses and we sometimes rode them, but more often they pulled a cart or a sleigh. Wonderful horses, about as stubborn as I am 😉 Perhaps its something I’ll treat myself to experience when my children are older.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How perceptive of you to recognise the Norwegian horse.
      I photographed this beauty in Skånevik, Norge!
      It was the only horse pic I had on my media files!
      It is certainly good to know horses can be raced in a humane way. Can you explain a little about endurance riding? I don’t know anything about it.

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