COMMENT

It's the race that stops the nation and the Aussie tradition that confuses the world.

There's really nothing quite like the Melbourne Cup – a day where bosses around Australia let employees walk off the job to go get completely trashed. No other event better encapsulates the essence of who we are as a country.

Try explaining this to someone who doesn't live here. A high-flying international businessman I know of jetted into town this week and couldn't wrap his head around it, reports News.com.au.

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It's all pretty straightforward. Photo / Getty Images
It's all pretty straightforward. Photo / Getty Images

Honestly, I don't know what's so baffling. The concept is pretty simple: There's a horse race but nobody really watches the horses and, even though it's on a Tuesday, everyone just ditches work to day-drink until they're so plastered they're falling into garbage bins — all while dressed in an extremely classy outfit.

I think it's the juxtaposition of being completely trashed while wearing a compulsory fancy outfit that confuses outsiders the most.

This year was particularly weird because of the whole "Say Nup to the Cup" campaign that ramped up after the ABC investigation into the mass slaughter of ex-racehorses. It threw a lot of people off. I mean, Australians love nothing more than a boycott — particularly if it comes with a rhyming slogan. But we also love ditching work and day-drinking. The national belief system was rattled to its core.

Would we all look like ignorant fools if we participated in cup festivities? Or would people who got involved risk being looked down on as big bogans like the ones who insisted on climbing all over Uluru?

Now, who wouldn't want to come and get involved in this? Photo / Getty Images
Now, who wouldn't want to come and get involved in this? Photo / Getty Images

The race still went ahead as usual and it was probably bigger than ever. It's never going to end. The country's finest B-list celebrities rolled on out to enjoy the celebrations at various marquees and copped no backlash. And as if they'd ever consider boycotting the cup — it's a B-lister's Christmas! Myer loans them an outfit and they get to hang out drinking free Champagne all day. It's gonna take more than a 7.30 investigation to make them give that up.

Sadly, my favourite part of racing season was missed this year — the part where a big A-list Hollywood star is lured over under false pretences and then we all proceed to make their life hell for the duration of their stay.

They're told it's just a chic and demure day of old fashioned horse racing and by the time they arrive at the track only to witness a group of drunk finance bros crash-tackling each other in grass-stained Tarocash suits, it's simply too late for them to back out.

It happened last year with Elle Macpherson. She rocked up to Derby Day looking fabulous but everyone laughed at her dress and called it the sartorial version of a mullet and then they cackled mercilessly when she tripped and stacked it in a gutter in Sans Souci.

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The year before, Michael Jackson's kid Paris was flown in as the star attraction and we turned her into a national villain for not wanting to talk about her dad.

We all got excited when Taylor Swift was announced as the big name earlier this year and couldn't wait to turn her into a meme regardless of what she did or wore at the event — but then she pulled out and refused to be the punchline of a national joke. Ugh, rude. It seems the Melbourne Cup has been black-listed around Hollywood — with news of cruelty to both racehorses and celebrities sending shockwaves.

Did any of you boycott? I ditched work and day drank while wandering around Westfield Bondi Junction. But that's just how I spend every Tuesday.