Gai Waterhouse's guide to the Melbourne Cup Carnival

Melbourne comes alive during the Melbourne Cup Carnival. It’s a time to dress up, dine out and cheer on your horse at one of the world’s richest horse racing carnivals. Gai Waterhouse, a successful horse trainer, has attended many Melbourne Cup Carnivals over the years including in 2013 when the horse she trained, Fiorente, won the Melbourne Cup. Considered racing royalty and an Australian icon, Gai Waterhouse shares what it is like to attend the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the best places to see the race and some helpful fashion tips on what to wear on the day. Gai Waterhouse's guide to the Melbourne Cup Carnival
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Gai Waterhouse’s guide to the Melbourne Cup Carnival

Gai Waterhouse shares her insights on the Melbourne Cup Carnival and what to expect.


Melbourne comes alive during the Melbourne Cup Carnival. It’s a time to dress up, dine out and cheer on your horse at one of the world’s richest horse racing carnivals.

Gai Waterhouse, a successful horse trainer, has attended many Melbourne Cup Carnivals over the years including in 2013 when the horse she trained, Fiorente, won the Melbourne Cup. Considered racing royalty and an Australian icon, Gai Waterhouse shares what it is like to attend the Melbourne Cup Carnival, the best places to see the race and some helpful fashion tips on what to wear on the day. 

Gai Waterhouse winning the 2013 Melbourne Cup, Melbourne, VIC

“Winning the Melbourne Cup was like nothing else I have ever experienced,” says Gai Waterhouse

“In the days leading up to the race, people were crossing the road, dodging traffic and trams just to wish me luck. They knew I had the favourite and people were going out of their way to wish me well and tell me they would be backing Fiorente.”

“Before winning the Cup, I had won well over 100 Group 1 races and had won many of Australia’s other great races many times over. But I just had to win the Emirates Melbourne Cup and luckily the dream came true. Rest assured, I want to win a second Cup just as much as I did this first.”

Gai Waterhouse, 2014 Melbourne Cup parade, Melbourne, VIC

“The city during the Melbourne Cup Carnival is entrenched in racing. Last year (2014) in the same outfit I wore when Fiorente won the Cup, my best friend Lea Stracey and I were taken around the streets of Melbourne in a horse drawn carriage for the annual Melbourne Cup parade. There were other champion trainers present, as well as champion jockeys and even retired former Melbourne Cup winners.

This sums up the atmosphere in Melbourne during Cup week; people love their racing and most of the people in the city have some interest in the race. In every restaurant, every café, every shop you over hear talk about the Cup. Racing takes over the city for this one week a year and I really love being involved.”

Melbourne Cup Carnival, Melbourne, VIC

“One of the greatest things about the Carnival is the eclectic mix of fashion on display. There is no better place than Flemington in November to spot the latest trends, whether it is a designer trouser-shirt combination or a beautiful dress from a high street store, you will see it all. My advice would be to wear something that you are comfortable in so that you can move around and get the most out of the entire experience. While a fascinator is not an absolute necessity like it would be at Royal Ascot or the Epsom Derby, I feel that a hat or fascinator completes an outfit.

 “As far as watching the racing like a Royal, the Chairman’s Club is a fantastic facility with a great view of the entire track from up high. I have a box reserved over the carnival and personally, I love sitting in the Grandstand with my owners and fans cheering home my horses. The lawn is also a great spot to watch the Cup. Every year I see all the girls dressed in their best putting down their picnic rugs and opening their bubbles and hampers of cheese and goodies. Then there is the Birdcage where a lot of the sponsors have marquees and people from all over the world can rub shoulders.”  

Melbourne Cup Carnival, Melbourne, VIC

“With 100,000 people in one place, it is just ever so important for everyone to look after each other. Everyone wants to see the races, everyone wants to get a drink and place a bet. At Flemington, the track can handle the number of people because the facilities and the Victoria Racing Club have had many years of practice. Crowds of almost 100,000 were attending the Cup back in my father’s day, so with experience comes the betterment of the event. If everyone is patient and understands that we are all there for the same reason, to enjoy the racing, then we should all be fine.”

“For example, I never hesitate to give up my seat for an older lady or gentleman as these are the people that have kept our sport alive for a long time. Enjoy the racing, cheer your horse home, and most importantly, remember that anyone who attends the Cup is part of history.”

Melbourne Cup Carnival is on from October 31 – November 7, 2015. Find out more information on how to book a ticket to the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

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