After last year’s ghost-like empty stadia, and a spectacular rose display left unappreciated, 10,000 excited racegoers and connections will head to Flemington racecourse in Melbourne on Tuesday to watch the race that stops a nation at 3pm.
Sure, another 90,000 people could have covered off nicely on lawns, car parks and marquees for this year’s running of the Melbourne Cup, and the Birdcage could have been humming with a long list of A to D listers, but there might actually be something quite special about a smaller crowd.
Space, and the opportunity to showcase how Victoria is getting back on track.
It’s been labelled a “trial run” that will “give hope to all major events, venues and entertainers that we are on the road to getting crowds back at live gigs”, according to the Victorian Racing Club brand general manager Jo King.
VRC members are receiving 7000 tickets and owners of competing horses, VRC season corporate partners, sponsors and the general public allocated 3000, with all racegoers allocated a reserved seat under the approved event plan.
Sure, bookmakers and the Myer Fashions on Your Front Lawn (a virtual competition for the second year running) are well organised and encouraged with the promise of big windfalls and prizes galore.
“Entertainment is a key pillar of the Melbourne Cup Carnival experience, so we are delighted to be welcoming top acts including Moulin Rouge! The Musical, The Living End, Kate Ceberano and Client Liaison to the Garden Stage in what will be a totally reimagined Cup Week,” Mrs King said.
“As a trial event run in conjunction with the state government, the Melbourne Cup Carnival should give hope to all major events, venues and entertainers that we are on the road to getting crowds back at live gigs, festivals, musicals and plays.
It’s about celebrity, fashion … and a few champion horses
Last year, Myer ran an inaugural Fashions on Your Front Lawn and it was a huge success, opening up the competition across the country and the department store chain is doing it again, this year with a $300,000 prize pool.
There’s a wildcard entry that will be announced on Tuesday and the national winner on Oaks Day on Thursday, but by all accounts this year’s glitz and glamour is on track for big and bold as well as a few hits and misses.
And with a reduced number of international guests and celebrities (wouldn’t it be great to have legendary US singer Dionne Warwick back?), it will be up to the local talent to create this year’s atmosphere.
We take a look back at some of the star talent who came, saw, conquered, and left.
Five-time Grammy award winner and soul icon Warwick graced the Birdcage three years ago. She said she was excited to experience Australia’s premier race day.
“I’ve been visiting Australia since the mid-1960s but I’ve never been to the Melbourne Cup Carnival, so I’m very much looking forward to attending Lexus Melbourne Cup Day at Flemington,” she said at the time.
Warwick’s mega-hit Do You Know the Way to San Jose, for which she received her first Grammy, was the soundtrack to that year’s VRC Melbourne Cup Carnival advertising campaign.
The Sex and the City actor brought her star power to the Cup carnival in 2011, taking Oaks Day by storm and hanging around for most of the week-long carnival.
She walked the Birdcage in a tight Vera Wang dress with white six-inch Manolos and the mother of three, 46 at the time, talked about her home life, insisting she lives a pretty normal life with her kids, saying “the whole house looks like a crime scene … with twins particularly, there are moments that it’s gruesome”.
Wife of Thor‘s Chris Hemsworth, Elsa Pataky held her own in the Emirates marquee on Cup Day in 2016, and fell in love with racehorse Who Shot Thebarman.
“He almost kissed me. I’m used to horses, I love them. I’m not scared of them. I was trying to hold him as much as I could, but he’s not like a normal horse,” she said.
Dita Von Teese’s glamorous 1940s style turned heads throughout Melbourne Cup day in 2013, wearing a white hat adorned with pink and white orchids as part of her lingerie launch.
Von Teese, once married to Marilyn Manson, the bona fide fashion icon brought star power to the Myer marquee and had a few local celebrities a little rattled.
All part of the fun and games that is … was… the Birdcage as we once knew it.
These antics just don’t happen any more with the internationals on Cup Day, but when Edelsten, wearing a canary yellow suit, proposed to Grecko inside the Birdcage, and near the VIP marquees, the world stopped.
A stunned Grecko, 24 at the time, said she was “shocked. Happy. We’ve talked about it for a long time and now it’s official”.
Edelsten said he found the very large diamond overseas somewhere.
The former wife of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, and their daughter, Georgia May Jagger, were guests in the Myer marquee in 2010.
She stirred the pot big time, licking windows, leaving before the end of the day and knocking back a designer gown, Paris Jackson captivated the media pack and onlookers on Melbourne Cup day in 2017.
Regulars at the carnival every year, experienced race couple Lleyton and Bec Hewitt will be under pressure to bring along along all their glitz and glamour to the big day.
VIP guest of the Melbourne Cup carnival, Delta Goodrem sang the national anthem back in 2007 and performed her hit single Solid Gold last year, and now’s she’s here again as an official VRC ambassador.
“After another unique year, Lexus Melbourne Cup Day is a great Aussie moment to look forward to, and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate no matter where people are around the country,” she said.
“As a storyteller, there is nothing I love more than an Aussie tale of grit, heart, strength and determination, and the People’s Cup has so many stories exemplifying these values.
“I really hope this is a moment that will be one that helps to bring people together and lift the Australian spirit.”