The Spring Carnival is a wonderful time of year. The flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, the temperature is rising, and it’s totally acceptable (encouraged) to gamble and get a bit legless in your Sunday best. So you can get the most out of your racing themed festivities, we’ve compiled our hints and tips for the official Pedestrian guide to the Spring Carnival.

Pedestrian’s Guide to the Spring Carnival


If you pick the Melbourne Cup trifecta, you’ll be revered by your friends, family, and colleagues. Come in on a regular Monday morning boasting about your big win on the weekend and people will secretly think you’re a degenerate gambler and make sure they keep an eye on any expensive shit when you’re around. That’s just how it is, so take advantage of this social leniency. As long as you don’t have to eat cat food for a week because you blew your food money on a sure thing, having a flutter on the ponies can be pretty fun. Here’s a quick term guide.

Odds-They refer to the return you’ll receive in relation to the money you bet i.e. 7/1 means you’ll get 7 dollars for every 1 you bet if you bet for the win.

Betting the win – The most common and simple bet. You bet the horse will win and you get the full return on odds. You receive nothing if it doesn’t.

Each Way – A bit of a safety option. Half your money is bet for the win and half for the place meaning you’ll receive a reduced payment if the horse comes in 2nd or 3rd.

The place – If you bet this you’re probably a wuss but at least the bar rarely runs out of light beer. You’ll see a return if your horse comes in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. But not as much if you just showed a bit of backbone and bet for the win.

Other BetsExacta is when you pick the 1st two in that order. Quinella is the 1st two in any order. Trifecta is when you pick 1, 2, 3 in order (total boss move if it comes in). Box Trifecta you pick 1,2,3 but in any order (less boss but you’ll still be getting down like a pimp).

Sure Thing – This horse is the favorite. Its low odds mean a lower return. It should finish up there but there are no guarantees… That’s why it’s called gambling.

Roughie – You might have already spent that $500 you’ll collect if it wins in your head but it’s 100/1 for a reason. It’s only a couple a runs away from the glue factory.

For the best up to date odds head to Centrebet

Pedestrian’s Guide to the Spring Carnival

The Big Races

CAULFIELD CUP, Caulfield, October 20
With a $2.65 million prize pool, the Caulfield Cup is the most lucrative 3 year-old handicap race in Australia. Traditionally, plenty of Caulfield runners will end up running in the Melbourne Cup so it’s often a good indication of form. It’s also a great opportunity to dust off the suit and build up that bubbly tolerance because it’s going to be a big couple of weeks.

COX PLATE, Moonee Valley, October 27
Considered the best weight for age race in Australian, it’s seen as the truest test of a horse’s abilities in the Australian racing calender. Recent horses to complete the Cox Plate/Melbourne Cup double include Makybe Diva, Might and Power, Saintly. It’s a bit of a fashion free for all. Keep it refrained and classy and you’ll do fine.

DERBY DAY, Flemington, November 3
One for the fans of actual horse racing, Derby Day is considered the best day of thoroughbred racing in Australia. There are still plenty of reasons to scrub up though. Traditionally the meet has inspired a classic look; black and whites for the ladies and grey morning suits for the dudes. The traditional flower of the day is the cornflower.

MELBOURNE CUP, Flemington, November 6
The race that stops a nation. Take a drink every-time time you hear that phrase over the next three weeks and you’ll get well and truly pickled but the race is the true focal point of the entire carnival. Whether you’re at a work lunch, country meet, or one of the 100,000 revelers at the track, it’s the perfect opportunity to let your hair down, have a glass of bubbles and have a bet. The $6.175 million race is the richest in Australia with interest generated the world over. Biggest is best and that extends to fashion, with the Cup considered the day where the fashionistas can bust out their most daring and out-there outfits. Hats are a must and so is a yellow rose on the lapel.

Oaks Day, Flemington, November 8
You guessed it. Ladies day is all about the ladies. Billed as the ultimate style day, it’s a day were ladies of all ages can get together and celebrate their most feminine ensembles. Guys, do your girl a solid and dress to match her outfit then keep out of the way and let her do her thang! There will also be a few horse races, the most notable being the Group 1 Crown Oaks, a $1,005,000 classic for three-year-old fillies over 2500m.

Pedestrian’s Guide to the Spring Carnival

As much as it’s about the actual racing of horses, fashion is an integral part of the festival. If you’re heading to the track, do your research. Each meet will have it’s own traditions and customs and you don’t want want to be the odd one out. If you’re kicking it at a work do it’ll be a bit more relaxed so just go for it. No one’s worn a lamp shade on their head for a while.

– Go to the parade ring at least once if you are at the track. The beer tent isn’t going anywhere. Soak up some pre-race atmosphere
– Go and watch one race from the rail nearest the track, especially when there are lots of runners. The thundering hooves and the cheering crowd is what it’s all about.
– Get in the spirit of it. Wear a silly hat, join the office sweep, have a drink before lunchtime. It’s a party yo.

– Tell your boss how you would do it differently at the office luncheon.
– Use flash photography near the horses. They are not D List celebs posing on their way into the Birdcage.
– Act like a tool. A long day on the drink will do it but the races are a great place to meet people. Anyone from your next boss to your following morning breakfast companion could be in the crowd.

Pedestrian’s Guide to the Spring Carnival

Hey Fellas
– Study the form guide. Even if if you don’t know a thing about racing, if you have a guide rolled up under the arm, you’ll not only look like a seasoned punter, but you’ll feel like one too.
– Your best to convince your mates that brightly coloured matching suits is the worst idea. Ever.

– Refer to a lady as a filly or she’ll probably treat you like a gelding.
– Take a stubbie cooler. The day is about appearance not practicality. If the ill fitting suit wasn’t enough, the Jim Beam stubby cooler will totally sell that mutton dressed as lamb vibe that you were trying to avoid.
– Wear what you wore to the Uni Race day. You’re a big boy now.

Pedestrian’s Guide to the Spring Carnival

Hey Ladies
– Consume some actual food with your champagne breakfast. It will be a long day and no one wants to hear how you’re on husband hunt in the taxi to the track.
– Wear comfortable shoes. Sensible can still be stylish in the shoe department. A good pair of wedges out-does a pair of heels if you wish to a avoid wobbling around like a new born giraffe as you cross the grass.

– Wear white. You’ll need all the help you can hiding those grass stains if you over do it on the champers. The probability of a bogan spilling bourbon and coke on you is even money if you’re not in a marquee.
– Take your shoes off at any point during the day.
– Go nuts on the fake tan. Not really races specific. More of a general life rule.
– Forget your emergency kit. You’ll get all messed up at some point during they day and those blisters ain’t gonna fix themselves.

Learn from the mistakes of those that have come before.

Pictures by Getty Images