Betting on the race that stops more than a nation

Melbourne Cup day, is synonymous with off kilter fascinators, stilettos wedged in sodden turf and car park picnics. The hallowed ground of Flemington Raceway, post meet, is a confetti of betting slips, an obstacle course of drunks, winners and losers alike, and a hotbed of potential fist fights and sexual hookups. In the high anticipation of a good time, the world’s fastest horses run 2300 metres to the finish line.

Horses of both kind, equine and the human kind adorned in couture clothes , strut in their silken best. Fashion designers, statuesque models, wealthy businessmen, society hyenas, entertainers, trainers,owners and the general public convene across Australia to celebrate our national love of a good bet. It is the biggest betting day of the Australian racing calendar, and in 2013 the Melbourne Cup fell on the first anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis.

Some of us unable to smell the pats or the yellow roses, attend local race meetings to join in on the excitement. We switch off work, and switch on the tv, or radio to hear the call. On metro buses and trains across Australia, on the first Tuesday of November, women adorn frocks and sport hats of dubious architectural design. Men drape fabrics of contrast in suit, shirt and tie and those with a modicum of taste, leave the white shoes and belt at the store.

This year for the first time, I ventured into online gambling. It was a seamless experience and I was credit checked in an instant. This is not the case for everyone and some people are required to provide additional proof of liquidity. There was a carrot of $150.00 in free bets to celebrate my joining, once I had placed bets to $50.00. I made my bets, across the field, including the favourite and a rank outsider.

After the race, the process of collecting my small win was seamless and quite simple. The lure of placing other bets surfaced, but since I am a dedicated once a year gambler, I resisted the temptation. I was curious however what other options I could take a punt on. Apart from the obvious raft of sporting events, I could gamble on who would be the next James Bond and whether 2014 would be the hottest summer on record. Even global warming was not immune, proving Australians propensity to gamble.

Since I am actively engaged in beating the odds and surviving cancer, apart from the traditional punt, I am not interested in any kind of odds either than those of my life and death. Catch me at the start of the AFL season, when the Dockers fly, and I might shift my view.

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