Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Cup! (with no carts)

‘Cup Day’ means different things to different folks. When I lived full-time in England, it of course meant the FA Cup. Doubtless it still does. In France, it’s the same thing. Football has claimed ‘la Coupe’ as its own. In New Zealand, however, The Cup is indubitably the NZ Trotting Cup, even though it has become rather degraded from the formidable annual feature it used to be. Australia, of course, is a federation, so they have several cups: most famously the Melbourne and Caulfield varieties. Gallopers, not trotters.

Well, one of the several is the $150,000 Grafton Cup. And I’m staying, at the moment, in … Grafton. Just a short walk from the racecourse. So, Paul and I went. Yayyy! Not for the whole day, but to take in a few races, notably, of course, The Cup. Well, the whole town was there. Paulie’s pa, Rod, was there, operating the Sky TV camera in the straight, brother-in-law Joe was there, trying so hard to pick a winner, 

eldest sons Darby and Harry were there looking ever so dapper, younger son Eli was in his sporting element, and daughter Rachel had transformed from the girl on the golf-course into a glamorous, leggy model.

The whole town was having enormous fun. I have never seen so many teens dressed up and loving racing! Why doesn’t this happen in New Zealand? It did my heart good to see it.

We watched the two races before the Cup … hmm fast track and favourites … and, well, I don’t bet, but this was our Melbourne Cup day, so I thought … let’s have a wee punt. Eli picked no5, Paul no6, and I fancied the name of no13. What I didn’t realise, with my experienced harness-not-gallops horseman’s head off, is that this was not, in spite of appearances, a ‘country meeting’. For $150,000 the big boys and girl (Gai Smith no less) come up from town. And that Prime Minister with the big ears whom most of Australia seems to dislike was there.

Well, Gai Smith (these days, Waterhouse) duly obliged with an all-the-way win by the topweight. Eli was 6th, Paul was 7th, I was 8th … and ruddy Darby got the trifecta!

A fun day! We followed up the horses with a little visit to the crowded first-night of a new wine-and-tapas bar. I felt for the owners! Everything seemed to have gone wrong for them, and they weren’t able to show their new venture off as they might have. 

But we supped their (expensive) wine and nibbled (finally) the odd tapas, and just enjoyed the company: lovely (Paul’s) sister Renée and husband Joe, and our Harry whom we hadn’t seen at the races, as while we were slumming it he was up in the posh places! Look, and ask why… The casting director in me rattled!

So another day in ‘quiet, country’ Grafton … and another ‘Cup’ to add to my collection!

No comments: