The whoreses are off and racing….

When you ponder horse racing in Australia, you can’t help but consider the action happening OFF the track. It’s how turf clubs have become young and cool and glamorous. Because whether you’re a guy or girl, man or woman, bloke or chick…. the fact is you spend WAY more time observing two legged creatures than you do any of the four-legged specimens actually racing.

Turf clubs around the country direct their marketing efforts and sell tickets to race meets by using this precise behavioural phenomenon. In fact whoever the genius was that invented the term ‘fashions on the field’ literally changed the face of horse racing forever.

Here’s why:

  • Where there are horses, there is horse poo. And sometimes if the wind is just so… it catches your nose hairs and makes your eyes water.
  • Much of the time spent is on your feet… usually on grass or dirt and outside. • Horses are mostly bred and trained on country soil. Country being home to the RM William boot and akubra hat. Not the Peep Toe stiletto heel and custom made fascinator.
  • The betting ring is traditionally a blokey, smokey booze fuelled rough patch of concrete where race going fanatics turn their thoroughbred knowledge into a pay day.

Not at all factors that would appeal to the glamorous ladies amongst us.  But DESPITE all that, women swarm to race days faster than pigs to mud because where there’s ‘fashions on the field’ there’s an excuse to dress up, feel fabulous and for some: celebrate a win.

Have you ever noticed that you rarely see Hollywood celebrities snapped by the paps at race days? It’s because the yanks don’t know how to market the races to the glamour social set. The best they have is the Kentucky Derby, and this is the best it gets….

But visit the Melbourne Cup and the celebrities on track outnumber the celebrities at a Logies after party. Because us Aussies have mastered the skill of turning 15 horses racing on a dirty oily track into a glamorous and fashionable social event. I honestly believe that NOWHERE ELSE in the world do you get the exceptional calibre and sheer volume of women for a horse race than you do here.

Darwin Cup Ladies Day best dressed winners: photo by NT News

BUT…. Where there is fashion there are women. And where there are fashionable women and gambling, there are men. And where there are women and men and money, there is booze. And where there is booze, and women and men, there is candid and definitive perving.

AND…. Where there is such brazen perving, there are women who love attention. And where there are women who love attention, there are retail shops that sell very short dresses and actually quite slutty outfits breaking sales records.

Or as I like to say on race days… “What the hell is with all the vadge grazers?”

Ladies. If some of you could even call yourself that after what I have seen….. Do yourselves a favour and wear a skirt! Race day is not the appropriate occasion to be channelling Lady Gaga.

I’m trying really hard not to be bitchy here, and not to make judgement on other females for something as superficial as their attire. Therefore I am going to refuse the massive temptation to call many of the girls I witnesses on Monday ‘Skanks.’

So what I will say is that I was amazed by how many girls were dressed for a street corner. At night.

So I’m sitting here majorly disappointed with what I saw on Monday. Yes, undoubtedly there were some ladies present. MANY women who made an effort to look lady-like and stylish on whatever their budget could afford them. In fact the Grand Dame of Australian Racing, Gai Waterhouse who was at the Darwin Cup on Monday said, “The fashion is very beautiful, haute couture that could not just be seen in Darwin, but anywhere.”

Then she said, “It’s so relaxed.”

Hmmm. I think she saw what I saw. Because for as many young ladies who looked superb, there were equally as many who got it wrong. And if you’re wondering if you were one of them… let me break it down.

Here is a list of what to avoid at race days. Because I love lists, and because clearly (despite Marie Claire magazine making a similar list some 10 years ago) this is new information to some….

  • Bling: The races is a day time event. You’re not going clubbing. You’re not going to a cocktail party. You’re not going to a ball. So while a dress is considered appropriate – it’s not if there are hundreds of little sequins or sparkly beads sewn on.

  • Ball gown: As per the above. There is a difference between a maxi dress and a gown. Maxi dresses are a great option. Ball gowns make you look silly. As you can see here, Jen Hawkins looks more like a bridesmaid than a fashion ambassador for the Myer tent.


  • Costumes: I guess if you’re young and there’s a whole group of you, and you want your photo taken… Go for it! But dressing up with a theme all on your own is a bit sad. Megan’s outfit would be fine if she’s left the horse whip at home. See the distinction?


  • Fairy look: Let me just say there’s nothing wrong with a dress that goes out. It’s fun and flirty and festive. But if you do, make sure the layers of tulle are hidden. Otherwise you fall into the above category and look more like a ballerina or a fairy.


  • Exposed flesh: A little is ok. As per Megan’s girls here. Wearing a vadge grazer – or a dress/skirt that barely makes its way past the entrance is appalling race-wear and while you will most certainly get looks, trust me: Not every person staring thinks you’re gorgeous, even if you are. It’s not lady like and you won’t even win the Best Dressed Stripper award.


  • Getting blind: Holding a bottle of wine in your hand all day does not count as an accessory. Drinking too much alcohol on a race day is like a horse shooting out of the gate and then collapsing mid track. It’s embarassing, ferrel and tragic. The only person laughing is you. Remember: There’s nothing wrong with having a few waters.

Look if you’re not sure how to know whether or not your outfit is race day lady worthy… here’s how I do the test. I ask myself these 5 little letters. WWKWW?  


What Would Kate Waterhouse Wear? The girl is racing royalty and has NEVER got it wrong. In fact, many girls make the mistake of asking WWJHW? (What Would Jen Hawkins Wear?) She is not your go-to girl for fashion on the field – trust me on that.

Jen is a girl from Newcastle who has charmed us all with her hometown ways. She also happens to be absolutely stunning and look sexy in everything. But chances are you’ve never won a Miss Universe Title and unless you have, you shouldn’t be thinking about that skin tight dress.

So that’s it. No more racing up this end of the country until next year. I guess the whorses will be taking a much deserved rest and perhaps unwinding by putting on a pair of jeans?? The odds aren’t too great on that one.



  1. Laura · August 6, 2010

    I think it’d be fun to dress up for race day. The only time I ever got to “dress up” for an event (besides my wedding) was the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. But that was cocktail dresses & tuxes. I want a fancy hat!

  2. Pingback: Halloween and Melbourne Cup. Is there a difference? « Cyclone Cindy

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