Trainers are pacing nervously, jockeys are watching their weight and horses are honing their sprint times. Construction workers are hammering together temporary facilities to help Flemington Racecourse host an estimated 350,000 guests. Celebrity agents for people including so-called New York 'it girl' Gigi Hadid are booking first class flights and accommodation. All of this frenetic activity can only mean one thing: the 2014 Emirates Melbourne Cup is approaching at a gallop.
To be held this year on Tuesday 4 November, the Emirates Melbourne Cup is Australia's richest race, with $6.2 million in prize money up for grabs. And there are plenty of preparations taking place off the track as well - in private homes, salons, shops and changing rooms. There's the dress, the shoes, and the fascinator to consider - did someone say Fashions on the Field? There's grooming to cover, from hair to nails to skin. There are all sorts of accessories that can help make your race day a little more comfortable - Heel Saviours, hello! And finally there are etiquette guides and training which will help ensure you remember Cup Day 2014 with enjoyment rather than embarrassment.
Taking time out to become race ready is a tradition that stretches back to 1962, according to Melbourne Cup Carnival organisers. In this year, a 'Fashions, Flowers and Favourites' promotion was launched to help woo more women to the races. A prize pool of goods and cash to the value of almost £7000 was on offer that year. Little did the organisers anticipate how what came to be known as Fashions on the Field would capture the imagination of the public and change the nature of racing forever. But even if you're not entering the competition proper, you still want to be looking your best on the big day.
It all starts with the shoes
Electrify your Melbourne Cup look with two-toned sandals. Image courtesy Jaspa King.
Whether on or off the tracks, it's important to be appropriately shod. Secure yourself a luxury pair of ladies heels, pumps or sandals from Jaspa King to carry you through Cup Day. Made from full grain leather, these shoes boast a cushioned leather insole to provide superior comfort. And Jaspa King is currently running a promotion to help you save a few bucks - use the voucher code 'FB50' for an additional $50 off your order.
Just as crucial are the Heel Saviours sold by Our Little Shoe Secret which allow women to stand and walk tall on any surface in high heels. No more sinking into the grass (or decking gaps, or pavers, or cobblestones) and ruining your favourite heels! Because heel tips are all different sizes, a range of seven different styles and sizes has been developed 'because there is no such thing as a one size fits all,' says Our Little Shoe Secret's Pippa McInnes. 'And we hold no less than 10,000 units at any given time so there will never be any stock delays.'
Heel Saviours stop that sinking feeling. Image courtesy Our Little Shoe Secret.
Ensuring one's mane is in tip-top condition couldn't be easier with tips from Bourke Street Mall's Dazzle Strands Beauty Bar stylist Catherine Rose. 'We do hairpieces and nails, and I fit and style hair extensions and hairpieces for race-goers and race participants alike,' says Rose. Hair extensions are an especially hot item for participants in Fashions in the Field who are graded on grooming and appearance. 'We also get a lot of requests for nails that match outfits,' Rose adds.
Nail that Fashions on the Field prize. Image courtesy Dazzle Strands Beauty Bar.
Just perfect for the Spring racing season are Moss and Spy's bright and breezy dresses which celebrate flowers in bloom. According to Moss and Spy designers, floral prints for this season are bold and eye-catching.
Some tips for dressing to turn heads? 'It's important to keep your look fresh every racing season,' Moss and Spy designers note. 'Our dresses have a modern edge this season as we bring out metallic lace, coloured lace, sequinned mesh and laser cut jersey.' And if you're wondering what the shape of the season is - think A line skirt: 'Flattering on every shape and size, and absolutely perfect for the races as it give your outfit the sophistication it needs.'
Pair your dress with a hat from the exceptionally skilled Kim Fletcher Millinery or a headpiece or accessories from Brunswick Street institution Scally and Trombone. From vibrant necklaces to showstopper fascinators, Scally and Trombone allow you to brighten up any racing outfit. Check out the dinosaur-themed fascinator (yes, really) or the Carmen Miranda 1930s inspired fruit hat. To complete the look, pair them with strings of vibrant beads which have been cleverly assorted to personify the freshness and liveliness of spring racing.
Be on your best behaviour
Keep yourself out of trouble on race day. Image courtesy Cosimina Nesci.
Following a few simple rules of etiquette can help ensure your race day recollections are good ones. According to personal brand and image specialist Cosimina Nesci, high spirits coupled with free-flowing champagne can compromise the most well-intentioned of racegoers. And with many companies now using a visit to the races as a team building exercise, the potential for problems is multiplied. 'When you turn up to the races with your colleagues, clients and boss you are still working,' Nesci says. 'It is essential that you behave so you don't embarrass yourself or anyone around you.'
Pacing yourself by interpersing alcoholic drinks with glasses of water and keep a tight rein on your wallet and emotions. 'This is not the time to make advances to any colleagues,' she adds. Corporate racegoers should also be sure to chat, laugh and connect with everyone, not just the boss. 'Mingle with all colleagues and clients,' she says. 'Chat about anything but work and get to know them personally but remember the taboo topics – religion, sex and politics.'