Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

And their racing.....

I breathe a sigh of relief every year at race time in Melbourne! Let me explain! For my sins my Event Management Company designed and co-ordinated the first marquees in the now (in)famous Birdcage at Flemington for the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. What fun you say! Not! There were no catering facilities to brag about, there was no electricity, it could be hot, it could be freezing, it could be a wet bog underfoot. And all had to be met with a smile (fixed) sore feet (rotating high heels, low heels, high heels - need I go on!). Arriving at dawn and departing after the final guests had swayed out the door (well tent-flap) was a triumph for my clients. For me - utter exhaustion. Horses - what horses - I sometimes glimpsed the bottoms of the jockeys as they thundered past. After 13 good - and I must admit rewarding years - I raised the white flag and fled! I have not been near a racecourse since!
Picnic Hampers are all the rage in the Members Car Park (the window in my favourite Laikon Deli in Richmond)
Back in those good ole days (late 80's to mid-90's) corporate marquees were few and far between - in fact almost non-existent. At first my client was the only marquee (corporate or otherwise) 'allowed' in the now famed Birdcage which was the Members Hallowed Ground (MHG). Even one marquee tucked up in the far corner was considered derigeur. Back then the Victorian Racing Club was really only just beginning to dip its toes in the corporate world of entertaining - and thus become the money-making-machine it is today. 

Well the MHG was slowly invaded until there were no more Members car parks in the Birdcage. After all why let the Members have the best view of the track! Today it is wall-to-wall Corporate Marquees vying for position in the front 'stalls', vying for the most 'over-the-top design, vying for the most exotic food created by a celebrity chef and of course vying most importantly for A-lister guests (90% of whom I have never heard of!). 
Our Nicole - dressed as a new version of My Fair Lady - jetted in from Europe for less than 24 hours!
Back then I was of the firm view that we were setting up in a paddock (out of season it still is!) and the then well regarded designs reflected what I still believe a marquee should be. Nowadays I would be considered 'old hat' - or 'old fascinator'. After all some marquees are now 3 stories high and have flushing loos. The Emirates marquee this year is a Dublin Library (my guess is that Emirates newest destination is ..... Dublin). Magnificent tho it is I do question the extraordinary amount of money that is poured into just 4 days of racing. 

Dublin comes to a Melbourne Cup Marquee (The Age)

We Aussies do have an obsession with horses and the track. We love a winner. I was interested to read recently that the famed Phar Lap who stands mightily at the Melbourne Museum now has his own - I can hardly bring myself to say this - facebook page! I wonder what he would make of today's circus. He'd probably be all of a Twitter!

Magnificent Phar Lap at the Melbourne Museum

But if you haven't experienced a Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival then I guess it really should go on your '1000 things to do before I die' list. Book early, stay at the Cottage and take the train (from the end of the street) out to Flemington. You'll have a fun day (I promise). Smell the roses, look at the sights - they are memorable - have a bet and of course a tipple! And as the song goes in My Fair Lady 'with a little bit of bloomin luck' you just might pick a winner. 

No comments:

Post a Comment