Australians love to have a punt, especially on Melbourne Cup Day, Tuesday 7 November, when the entire nation stops to watch 24 horses run hell for leather over two miles. Picture the Grand National, but without the steeples, and you’ll understand why the race is so important. This year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup has a star-studded cast of local and overseas horses, trainers and gamblers all trying to win the multi-billion dollar prize. It’s one of the biggest events on the international racing calendar and a major scoop for any racing syndicate. For instance, Godolphin stables from the United Arab Emirates are always keen to win the Cup, as are trainers from the USA, UK and Ireland. In Sydney the event is almost as big as it is in Melbourne, and although Sydney may not have a public holiday, many people still enjoy a full day of racing fun. While Cup lunches and other events are standard fare for the clubs and hotels, if you really want to get dressed up and make a day of it you should head to Randwick Racecourse. Here the champagne flows all day and the punters dress up in big hats and fancy clothes like their Melbourne cousins.


For the last few years the race has been dominated by legendary Australian mare Makybe Diva, but this year the field is wide open. The first race begins at 10.30am, but the main event doesn’t start till 3.10pm, so you’ve got plenty of time to place a bet at the TAB. Most pubs in Australia have TAB outlets.


Get yourself into a good position to watch the race on TV. Channel Seven begins its coverage of the event from 10.30am. The horses run a distance of 3200 metres (two miles) – that’s two laps of the Flemington track, and the last 200 metre sprint can be really nerve-wracking. The race record time is three minutes and 16.3 seconds, set by Kingston Rule in 1990. Good luck!


Robarta (109-111 Fitzroy St, St Kilda) Between 11am and 6pm, youÕll receive a complimentary glass of champagne, so sit down, relax and watch the races on the large plasma screen. DJ’s start at 8pm, open until very late (free entry). Call (03) 9534 9041 for more info. Pugg Mahones (106-112 Hardware St, Melbourne) See the races live on the big screen. They have a Cup lunch for $12 from 12pm-3pm. Cup happy hour is from 2pm-4pm. $5 pints of New, $5 basic spirits and $3 house wines (red, white and champers). Get your sweepstakes here too. For more details, call (03) 9670 6155. Melbourne Museum – Phar Lap He triumphed during the Great Depression of the early 1930s, when a hero was most needed by the people of Australia. In the spirit of the Melbourne Cup, come to the Melbourne Museum and see Australia’s Wonder Horse. For more details, call 13 11 02. Bookings can be made on Freephone 1300 130 152, Australia-wide (03) 8341 7777 or International + 61 3 8341 7777.


Slip Inn (111 Sussex Street) Get a three-course picnic lunch with a complimentary glass of Domaine Chandon or Tooheys New on arrival for $80 per person. There are prizes for the best dressed in themed attire and there’s also a post-race party with DJs that will go on well into the night. For more info, call (02) 8295 9999. Bungalow 8 (The Promenade, King Street Wharf) If you can’t be trackside, why not celebrate harbourside at Bungalow 8 instead? For $99 you’ll get a three-course meal and three complimentary drinks of your choice including Seppelts Salinger, Crown Lager or a Makybe Diva classic (Skky Vodka with Cranberry). You can upgrade to the premium package for $145 per person and celebrate with Moet & Chandon champagne instead. There will be big screens, Fashions of the Field, sweepstakes, TAB facilities as well as live music. For bookings, call (02) 9299 4660 or email Coogee Bay Hotel (cnr Coogee Bay Rd & Arden St) Their Melbourne Cup luncheon package includes a glass of sparkling on arrival, a seafood buffet and a complimentary mystery trifecta ticket. There will be also be full TAB facilities, lucky door prizes and a large screen TV. And if you’re upset about missing the action at the races, you’ll be pleased to hear there will even be crab races. The Melbourne Cup special package is $59, while it’s $25 per person for a seafood platter, bottle of sparkling wine and four mystery trifecta tickets. For more info, call (02) 9665 0000.


Waterlily Beachfront Restaurant (109 Margate Parade, Margate) Watching the Melbourne Cup while overlooking the beach? Now that’s quite the Aussie experience. Enjoy a two-course lunch with a glass of wine or champagne for only $25 per person. From 11am to 4pm there will be lots of racing action with sweep stakes, lucky door prizes and of course a huge screen to watch all the races on. For more information, call (07) 3283 3366.