Ally Blake Romance Author - Blog

Latest news from Australian romance author Ally Blake, writer of fun, fresh flirty romance novels.

Saturday 5 November 2005

putting a spring in your step

Melbourne's Spring Racing Carnival is always a huge deal in Australia. As we are a nation that counts Phar Lap - a gangly, underdog, blighted horse who died seventy odd years ago - as a national icon, the biggest month in the horse racing calendar always creates a buzz.

Down here in the heart of Spring Racing country, we feel the races coming from a mile away. The same way you can tell Christmas is on the horizon when shopping centre Muzak changes, or when you catch tinsel out of the corner of your eye for the first time in months, when Spring Racing is nearing, one's shopping experience alters dramatically.

Gone are windows filled with winter woollies and jeans as they make way for glamorous dresses and feathery hats. We head out to the shops preparing to spend a hundred dollars on an outfit one day, and the next hundreds of dollars are spilled from our ready credit cards. For women who year round are most happy in jeans and t-shirts, frou-frou becomes the order of the day.

Spring Racing means fake tan, bright lipstick, and champagne for breakfast lunch and dinner. Spring Racing means a flutter bet on a long shot or a favourite, or heck, why not both? Spring Racing means you can wear the most beautiful dress you have ever seen, a hat bigger than your head laden with feathers that touch the sky and ridiculously expensive high heels that you know won't last past that one day at the races as they fight against mushy turf, spilt beer, and stomping hooves of man and horse alike.

But this year for Spring Racing, there was a very particular buzz in the air. The Melbourne Cup, the biggest race in the yearly calendar, the "race that stops a nation" for three minutes on the first Tuesday in November, wasn't just about the hats and celebrity cleavage. This year, a glorious mare by the name of Makybe Diva had the chance to do what no other horse in history had done - she had the chance to win her third Melbourne Cup in a row. Not even our Phar Lap, so beloved he now resides stuffed and on show in our state Museum, had done such a feat.

The day dawned, hot and sunny. And in Melbourne at this time of year such weather is notoriously hit and miss. Would the ground be too hard and dry for the Diva who prefers the wet? Would her owner and trainer let the great mare race? She was the talk of the town, the front of the newspaper for a good week leading up to the big race. And every Australian tall enough to hold a dollar coin to a bookie's window put a bet on her that day. Her odds were so low it was hardly worth it, but that wasn't why we bet.

She sat back for the majority of the race, behind the leaders and against the fence. Her glittering red white and blue colours the only ones any of us watched through the whole race. Would she be stuck against the rails? Or was her experienced jockey exactly where he wanted her to be? They rounded the straight, the thudding hooves creating a primal soundtrack to the excited musings of the race caller. And then she came. Strong, fast, the wind at her heels and fate guiding her home. Every Australian shed a tear of pure joy for the elegant lady winner.

Makybe Diva, a legend, retired
after that race. Which leaves us with a wide open field for next year. So who will be the new favourite? The new darling? And more importantly what will we wear?