Almanac (Racing) Poetry: Melbourne Cup Blues

Melbourne Cup Blues


I have such rosy recollections
of riding Comic Court and Hi Jinx
on the rusty playground carousel
of my early winners at school
sixpence on Galilee
twenty cents on Red Handed
a dollar on Rain Lover
a classmate caught red handed
ear to his transistor radio
of watching Van Der Hum on TV
win the great swim-through in 1976
of champagne each year at work
occasional success in the sweeps
and passing the 1990 results to
the Finance Committee Chairman
to read out poker faced in case
anyone might want to know.


So how is it that the Lexus saddles
the billionaire owners’ corporate caps
the celebrities and pollies with their tips
inaudible warnings about the gambling
habit from William Hill and Ladbrokes
matchstick models kissing horses
the preoccupation of everyone
on the street in the shops at work
on every channel station and rag
with the latest news on the field
and the rest of that confected carnival
on the first Tuesday in November
fill me with a sinking feeling which
not even Makybe Diva’s monument
holding pride of place on Boston Bay
and Michelle Payne’s modest smile
and big serve to the boys can stall?



  1. Onya Harry. We are a similar era. Those Anzac Cups of the 60’s/70’s are mythical in my memory. Everything worthwhile can be packaged, commercialised and hyped until it loses all traditional value. It may be a better class of horse with the European stayers, but no more Trinders or Luptons or blokes with a tough stayer out the back will be winning the Cup any more.
    Now its won by arseholes, robbers and tax dodgers.

  2. Yes, it’s changed. You still have to find the winner! Nice line about M.Payne – although I’d say that result, an outlier, has served the Cup well. As have the wins of nags like Stars of Carrum and Extra Brut.

    Of course SAMRA showed many years ago the possibilities when you are keen enough and energetic enough to syndicate a horse that can show how socialism works in horse-racing. Just more likely for that syndicate to be involved in the Murtoa Cup rather than the Melbourne Cup. But we dream.

  3. Peter Crossing says

    Well done MHarry. An economy of words used to maximum effect. Just like those “old time” course characters who would pass on tips. Or the bookies who would gladly accept the meagre tokens of my false hopes.

  4. All i know about horse racing is that old Spike Jones record about a famous race. All the horses had funny names. At one stage the caller said Chewing Gum was sticking to the rails and last of all was Beedlebum. As the song concludes Spike sings “and the winner is (drum roll) Beedlebum. This was quite a feat as Beedlebum was running last until that very moment.

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