Race-Day Guide to the Melbourne Cup
Planning your movements for the Melbourne Cup? Our Race-Day Guide has everything you need to know.
The Melbourne Cup is Australia's premier horse racing event, and with it taking place on Tuesday November 4, it's time to start planning your participation in this day of fun and frivolity. Once you've established where you'll stay and booked time off work, it's time to look into the specifics of the day itself. Stay tuned to this page for a preview of the big race closer to the date!
Select your Event
While the race that stops a nation is confined to several minutes on Thursday November 4, the Melbourne Cup Carnival runs for a week from November 1 through to November 8. The festivity kicks off with the AAMI Victoria Derby Day, followed by the crowd-pulling Melbourne Cup event on the Tuesday. Next up is the Crown Oaks Day. Emirates Stakes Day wraps up the carnival on the eighth of the month.
The Melbourne Cup race is the big contender here, but all of the carnival days have plenty to offer punters. Come for the whole week or just for the Tuesday - the choice is yours. You can buy individual tickets for each day, or select a multi-day package that allows you to attend two, three or all four days of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
How to Get There
The carnival is held at Melbourne's Flemington Raceway, 6km northwest of the CBD. Organisers recommend racegoers enter the venue via the Dynon/Kensington/Hobsons Road route, however it's likely there will be heavy traffic during the event for those travelling by car. Limited car parking is available, with a $20 parking fee. Alternatively, park undercover at Southern Cross Station and then catch a train to the event.
Public transport will be operating to help reduce congestion and provide a safe way for people to get to and from the event. Flemington-bound trains will depart from platforms eight and nine of Flinders Street Station, stopping twice to collect more passengers before heading express to the racecourse. Make sure you have a valid topped-up Myki for your trip.
You can also travel via tram, catching the No. 57 from Elizabeth and Flinders Streets through to Flemington Drive off Epsom Road. The route 472 bus from Williamstown, Footscray and Moonee Ponds will also get you where you need to go on the day, along with route 404 from Footscray or Moonee Ponds.
Event participants can make use of a free shuttle bus running between Flemington and Footscray during the Melbourne Cup, running from the last race until around 8:00 p.m. Another free bus will run from the main turnstiles through to the Southern Cross Station on each race day from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
If you're flying in for the big event, take the SkyBus express service that operates between the city centre and Melbourne Airport.
What to Wear
General admission requires no formal dress code, however racegoers are expected to dress smartly. Members and visitors to the members' area must abide by the Victoria Racing Club Members' dress regulations, which serve as a good guide for anyone heading to the event.
Men should wear a suit with a sports coat or blazer and tailored slacks, along with a tie and dress shoes. It's not acceptable to wear sports shoes or joggers, thongs, gumboots or slippers, nor should you wear jeans, torn clothing, shirts with no collar, windbreakers, tracksuit tops, denim jackets, fluorescent suits, peaked caps, rugby tops or denim in any form.
Women should maintain a similar standard of dress, and should avoid tucking pants into socks or shoes, any midriff-showing garments, leggings worn as pants, playsuits and denim. Headwear is always appropriate, whether it's a beautiful hat, headband or something more creative.
There are hotly-contested Fashions on the Field competitions throughout the carnival, which can see winners taking home prizes such as a brand new car, shopping sprees, electrical goods, watches, luggage and more.
What to Bring
As the Melbourne Cup Carnival is an outdoor event, it's a good idea to dress for the conditions and bring along sunscreen, sunglasses and wet-weather gear to prepare for every outcome. Keep in mind the dress regulations when you're packing. Consider your comfort, too, as you will likely be on your feet for much of the day. This may mean leaving the stilettos at home and opting for a more sensible heel, or packing some gel pads and plasters to soothe any aching feet.
Bring along some cash to minimise time spent waiting in queues. There are ATMs on the course, however these can get very busy throughout the day.
When you arrive, you can cloak your jackets and acquaint yourself with the nearest bathrooms and food and bar areas. You may wish to purchase a racebook for information on race times, plus facts on the horses, jockeys and trainers. This book also includes a map of the course and plenty of other valuable information, and can be purchased at several outlets around the course.
There are a range of different dining options to suit every budget and group size, including plenty to cater to larger parties where you're desperate to impress.
Melbourne Cup holidaymakers may be drawn to The Precinct, which has a social atmosphere indicative of the Carnival as a whole. It's an outdoor ticketed area that includes racecourse admission, a racebook for each guests and a selection of take-away and gourmet food and beverages for purchase. Enjoy live entertainment between races, sit under an umbrella and get a supersized-screen viewing of the races.
For a buffet meal with a difference, try the Home Straight Enclosure. Feel horses thunder past metres from where you dine, as this venue is located in the centre of the track. This package includes racecourse admission and a racebook, canapes upon arrival and a two-course buffet lunch. Enjoy afternoon tea and a selection of beer, wine and soft drinks, plus access to a private garden with umbrellas to recline under. There's even a live band to spice things up between races, plus access to private betting facilities. Just make sure you dress suitably!
Photo courtesy of Chris Phutully