Melbourne Cup 2017: The race that stops … the office

Then Prime Minister John Howard and some of his Canberra staff watch the Melbourne Cup race on television in 2003. Picture: Andrew Taylor
Then Prime Minister John Howard and some of his Canberra staff watch the Melbourne Cup race on television in 2003. Picture: Andrew Taylor

Australia’s biggest horse race has nearly arrived again.

“The race that stops a nation”, the Melbourne Cup, will be held on Tuesday, November 7.

More than 95,000 people are expected to gather at Flemington Racecourse for the annual event.

Across Australia, six million people are expected to tune in to watch the race on television or via streaming online.

Many of these viewers will be huddled together around the office TV.

As the clock ticks down to Tuesday’s 3pm race, we ask the crucial question – is there an office etiquette to watching the Melbourne Cup?

Punters watch the Melbourne Cup on television screens at Randwick Racecourse in 1970. Picture: Brannan

Punters watch the Melbourne Cup on television screens at Randwick Racecourse in 1970. Picture: Brannan

The TV set up

Okay, this seems like an obvious one.

Most offices will have a television, whether it be in the kitchen or board room.

Do you have a big enough screen for a large group of people to watch at the same time?

No, you don’t need an IMAX screen set up.

But the last thing you want is people crowded around a television that appears to have emerged from the 1950s (see below).

No matter what the screen size, be conscious of other people around.

The ultimate faux pas is blocking someone’s view by standing too close to the TV. It also might be best to keep your secret ambitions of jockey stardom to yourself during that all-important three minutes.

An original 1956 AWA television. Picture: Scott McNaughton

An original 1956 AWA television. Picture: Scott McNaughton

Office sweepstakes

A traditional social aspect on Melbourne Cup is the office sweepstakes.

A sweep involves several people (often the whole office) purchasing a set of tickets.

Each ticket represents a horse and tickets are usually given out randomly.

Prizes are traditionally given to first, second, third and sometimes fourth place. But stay around until the end, as you could even get your money back if your horse finishes last!

And in case you were worried, there is nothing illegal about running office sweepstakes.

Nibbles and drinks

A great way to complement the racing action on Melbourne Cup Day is to have an impressive spread of food and drinks.

Arguably, the ideal catering method is finger food.

These meals are often easy to make (or pre-made) and it also means no washing up afterwards – double win!

Other winners include a cheese platter, biscuits and dip (don’t double dip!), some potato chips and lollies.

In terms of drinks, some people traditionally enjoy a glass of champagne or beer.

We recommend being careful on how many drinks you enjoy on the day. 

Ilona Watkins and Ellie Harris enjoy a glass of champagne trackside. Picture: Amy Paton

Ilona Watkins and Ellie Harris enjoy a glass of champagne trackside. Picture: Amy Paton

What to wear

Fashion is something that is closely affiliated with Melbourne Cup Day.

One of the highlights at Flemington Racecourse is the annual Fashions on the Field competition.

Back in the office, men and women often take up the opportunity to dress up for the day.

Traditional dress wear for women include a dress, high heels and a fascinator. When in doubt, as one fashionista shared earlier this week, “bung on a hat”. 

For the men, the suit and tie look is often the best option.

A Fashions on the Field ambassador at the Melbourne Cup parade on Monday. Picture: Julian Smith/AAP Image

A Fashions on the Field ambassador at the Melbourne Cup parade on Monday. Picture: Julian Smith/AAP Image

What to do

Now that you have read our comprehensive how-to guide, don’t forget the most important aspect of the day – have fun!

To get yourself in the groove for Tuesday’s event, sit back and relive Almandin winning the 2016 Melbourne Cup race.

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