The Calibre Man's Guide to the Races
“Nowhere in the world have I encountered a festival of people that has such a magnificent appeal to the whole nation.”
Mark Twain - attending the 1895 Melbourne Cup.
With high stakes in fashion and on the field, you’re faced with two dilemmas – what should you wear and how should you place your bets? Fear not, for Calibre has you covered on both fronts.
The race for the purists. The day is a blend of glamour, sophistication and prestige both on and off the field, and as a result the dress code is the strictest of the entire carnival calendar. Not that this should be a deterrent; embrace it! Whilst etiquette states that attendees should wear black and white, we suggest that gentlemen mix it up with a black paisley tie, a crisp white shirt, a chalk cotton suit and a black lapel pin.
Opt for a mystery trifecta – the computer will generate your selection (of three horses) and you have the choice of including the favourite. Less science, more excitement.
The undisputed focal point of the Spring Racing calendar. First held in 1861 over two miles, the Melbourne Cup is Australia’s major thoroughbred horse race. What started as a 4000 strong crowd in the first race has now grown to over 104,000 in 2013 (and between 300-400,000 over the Melbourne Cup Carnival), and has over the years become an iconic annual event in Australia, as well as one of the most prestigious horse races in the world, enduring through the Great Depression, World War II and more. The carnival spirit is well and truly alive on this day, with live shows, television crews and celebrities in abundance. Set the bar with a navy suit, woven tan belt and tan lace up shoes then push the sartorial boundaries with a floral print shirt. Finish your ensemble with a silk white pocket square and lapel pin.
The early co-favourite is Protectionist – back him Each Way to increase your chances or go all out to win if you’re feeling flush.
Crown Oaks Day
This 2500m race takes place two days after the Melbourne Cup. The Oaks were first run in 1861, and is dubbed “Ladies Day” for its emphasis on females both on and off the racing track. Entrants to the Group 1 race are restricted to 3 year old fillies, while the competition heats up for the ladies off the field with the finals of the Fashions of the Field event. Of course, it’s not only the ladies who get to ramp up the style on Oaks Day, the gentlemen are more than welcome to join in! Colours abound on this day, so use accessories like striped ties, lapel pins and pocket squares to complement your partner.
To make an early call for Oaks Day is tough. The event takes place at the tail end of the fillies’ Spring racing season, and its 2500m distance has been criticised for being too long for 3 year old fillies. Keep your eye out for consistent performers as indicators of good stamina for your best bet.
Held on the Saturday after the Melbourne Cup, Stakes Day is the culmination of a week of Spring Racing fever, and is billed as a day of relaxation with the family. There’s been plenty of excitement over the past week, and “Family Day” is just the ticket to cap it all off. Live entertainment and free activities for the kids are plentiful, and the kids’ portion of the Fashions on the Field competition takes place on this day. Younger racegoers of 6 – 17 years old get to show off their fashion know how. A week of high fashion not enough for you? Well the family category was introduced in 2011, so make it a team effort for the last hurrah of the carnival.
Of the past 12 winners, 9 of them have been booked to win at double figures; this means predicting an actual winner is hard. Instead, why not make a place bet, where you’ll win a payout if your chosen horse comes in 1st, 2nd or 3rd?