Is there a sadder or uglier day in the Australian calendar than Melbourne Cup day? I even resent that the name of a great and vibrant city has been used to label such a grotesque event, so before you ask, it’s definitely not a Melbourne versus Sydney thing. I feel sorry for lovely Melbourites that they are lumbered with this as the most famous thing that happens in their city every year, though I admit that the fact that some southerners are so proud of it is reason enough to live in Sydney. Not than you can totally escape the horror in Sydney. Late in the day there will be sad folk falling around the streets, peeing in front garden hedges and puking in taxies who woke up that very morning believing that they would suddenly personify glamour if they donned a short shirt and pillbox hat to watch small men beating horses. Now I get that a certain Eliza Doolittle trackside vulgarity is the Australian way – we are not meant to take these things too seriously. And horses are beautiful and glorious to watch in motion, but what happens on Melbourne Cup day is the opposite of egalitarian Australia: people vying for tickets to the best tent, for acceptance in some snobbish club, to bow at the altar of celebrity culture. So for me it truly is the race that stops the nation – stops the nation being true to itself.