Owing to the races, little business was transacted in the city yesterday after the hour of noon. The banks closed at half past twelve o'clock; the wholesale houses and several retail establishments adopted the same course about the same time; the law courts rose at 2pm
- The Argus, November 3, 1865
THERE seems to be little information as to exactly why leaders of the Victorian racing industry decided in the 1860s that it would be a good idea to create and host a premier racing event on a Tuesday.
Yep, the day after manic Monday; just before hump day.
Seems it didn't do a great deal for Melbourne businesses back in the 1860s and the argument about the impact of the public holiday created only a few years after the cup was first run and won by Archer - a story full of myths which itself is worthy of many column centimetres at this time of the year - remains strong to this day.
In Ballarat, the debate is complicated by a seemingly perennial discussion over the most appropriate date for the allocated holiday, as councils have the discretion to select a different day.Ballarat Show Day, later next week, has won the battle, at least in the short term, despite vigorous propositions put forward by the business community to the contrary.
The trouble in Ballarat all stems from the shift of our own cup to a Sunday, which is far from ideal, and racing officials should take heed of the united front being presented by the community for a change.
It says plenty about our nation that we have a horse race where the 'sport' comes a long last in preference to having a bet and creating social activities at work, home and in the tens of thousands at the track.
More puzzling is this 'event' would warrant the total shut down of the nation's second biggest city for the best part of two days - the Monday before the cup is one of the most popular 'sick' days on the calendar - combined with the Tuesday public holiday.
When state opposition leader Daniel Andrews suggested a new public holiday on AFL grand final eve, the policy was roundly criticised by business groups.
Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox was one of the most vocal: "Public holidays in Australia are a mess, with states and territories each doing their own thing," Mr Willox said.
We wonder if any such advocacy group would ever suggest the Melbourne Cup should not maintain its holiday status?
There's a mystic surrounding the cup that for three and a half minutes anything is possible. Professional punters and once-a-year mugs are equal once the gates fly open.
Pick a horse by number, by barrier, by jockey or by trainer and you might just get lucky.Some catch the bug and want something more.
While horse ownership is largely the domain of queens and sheiks, moguls and behemoths, the proliferation and ease of syndication has opened opportunities for mums and dads, tradies and hobby farmers to dream of owning a Cup winner.
On Tuesday, hundreds of 'owners' of imported horse Dandino - some from the Ballarat region - will be hoping for a slice of history.
Maybe that's the attraction of the cup. For one day we roll the dice and take a risk on the most improbable because just maybe something amazing is possible. No wonder it's a celebration.
Early Melbourne Cup tips: Seville, Verema, Fiorente.