FOR one night only, the glitz and glamour of Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse was transposed into the historic Australia House. In the majestic setting of the Exhibition Hall, otherwise recognizable as the entrance hall to Gringotts bank in Harry Potter, the magic of the race was recreated on the big screen and in the flurry of fascinators that adorned the revelers.
Once past the twin starting posts of security and coat check, racegoers were shepherded in to the racing grounds — complete with a Fairground Game with bottles of Australian wine for the winners, a photo booth (try squeezing a big hat into that one) and Aussie nibbles circling the room. The final platters of chocolaty lamingtons were enough to inspire the stirrings of homesick nostalgia in even the most hardened of expats.
A gregarious MC introduced Fashions on the Field, and fashionable Aussies in London treated us all to a show to remember, managing to demonstrate that plunging temperatures outside did not necessitate compromise to a perfectly planned summer racing outfit. The winner of finest filly was, as the MC described, dressed as “the innocence of Springtime”, and earned her prize.
The men’s competition was slightly more fraught with controversy, as an older gentleman contestant dressed in a dapper cravat, waistcoat and top-hat was heard to remark as he moved through the crowds: “I was robbed.”
The festivities continued at the after-party, but I, buoyed by the knowledge my parting goody bag contained the answer to a long-held craving — a Cherryripe — bid adieu to the revelers, and an excellent night. I’m ashamed to say that, even after a multitude of pavlovas and lamingtons, the Cherryripe didn’t even make it past the bus-stop. Let’s not even talk about the Timtams that were in there too….
Were you spotted? Check out all the fashions in our photo album. Images courtesy of 90 Seconds – Online video experts. Contact [email protected] for more information.
Melbourne Cup Celebration at Australia House 2012 album
To read how Aussie crowds back home celebrated see: Loutish cup behaviour attracts UK tabloid interest