Flemington on the day of the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s greatest race, once more proved yesterday to be the Mecca of the multitude. If the drenching shower of rain which fell soon after lunch did not threaten to dampen the social spirit, it happily came too late to divert the throng from Flemington, and so the Hill, the stands and the lawns and flat were crowded with good-humored people from all part of the continent.
There is nothing like the knowledge that a hot favorite is in the field to attract men and women who like to see a great race well run, but the broader aspect of Cup day is its social appeal. For most of the year a community lives to a considerable extent in watertight compartments. Flemington on the second Tuesday of November, however, is the natural environment for the give and take, the thrust and parry of humor in social intercourse. If you tell a yarn or crack a joke at Flemington, especially after the Cup race is run, it must be a good one. The veteran racegoer, who recalls the scene when Carbine, carrying 10 st. 5 lb., in a field of 39, became a national idol, is listened to with rapt attention. The man or woman punter who can lose with a smile and win with a cheer chants the keynote in a magnificent holiday chorus.
Caution was the feminine characteristic in fashions, and the coats and furs which dominated the dressing did not seem to cover up the variety of colors that lent gaiety to the parade below the Hill. Seen from the saddling paddock, where Phar Lap and his many chestnut rivals walked before their admirers prior to the race, the course presented a stirring sight. With the members’ lawn sprinkled with humans in the foreground, the Hill, where abides the spirit of Flemington in festive mood, suggested something of what one might imagine an old Roman amphitheater looked like when the gods smiled down on mortals making carnival.
But the race is imminent. Fifteen horses file on to the track for all to admire and criticise. They go to the barrier which runs back from the track into the training ground. There is a lull in the conversation. “They’re off!” It was a good start.
Spectators crane their necks for a view of their fancies. The small field quickly forms a bunched group on the rails. Temptation leads the way, and after a short distance has been run, Phar Lap is also in the van. As the horses clatter past the main crowd there is comparatively little mud flying from the grassy turf. Over on the flat the crowd moves fitfully from place to place. It is the only portion of the ground where freedom of movement is unlimited. They run in all directions, those people, in a sort of civil riot, which has for its object a changing view of the race.
The field gallops round. Al except the discriminating see their fancies in the lead. Into the straight heads this mass of glossy-coated, straining horseflesh, the horse of the hour prominent, preparing to make his run. Shadow King, the Comedy King bay gelding, is with him, and the big frame of Second Wind is observed among the leaders.
With powerfully measured gallop Phar Lap forges ahead. The shouts and yells of admiration are deafening. This beautiful horse has found a cherished place in the imagination of the people. Twice favorite for the Melbourne Cup – he is winning. Not a mad gallop this, but a finishing burst of speed which is unbeatable. He wins, with Second Wind and Shadow King second and third.
A great cheer rises from the throats of the multitude. For the race is over. The favorite has won. At last the horse in second place has justified his name. All there, in fact, have gloriously run their second Melbourne Cup.