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Turf Deli Spring Racing Carnival - Oaks Day 2002 Preview
Brand New Flemington  01/11/2007

Immediately after the last drunk was evicted from Cup week last year, the lawn was steam cleaned and the bulldozers streamed in to tear through the course, setting the stage for the new exciting Improved Flemington, with 20% more stories about whether the roses will bloom in time.

The racecourse was out of action for most of this year, as they renovated and redeveloped some exciting new state of the art facilities. So, if you are off to the races during Cup Week, here is a rundown of items of interest, both old and new, you should be on the watch out for :

THE GREY STEPS : Leading down from the train station, these steps are still grey, and still steep. A team of colour consultants worked feverishly during the winter to develop a new shade of grey , never seen before in a step based context. A permanent and important fixture of Cup Week, yet so very under-rated, sit back and enjoy the entertainment as streams of staggering drunks in unsuitable high heels try to negotiate the difficult climb home.

PARADE RING VIEWING PLATFORM : The newly developed stable area can be viewed from the brand spanking new viewing platform. Of course, with EI you are not allowed too close, but with a pair of binoculars you can admire the new stable facilities, where the horses reside in accommodation with a rustic stable inspired feel, complete with faux hay and fake wood panelling, but with all the mod cons such as wireless internet access and wide screen plasma TVs to fill in the time between races.

CAMBERED TURNS : The turns in and out of the straight are now cambered with a slight slope, which means horses can gradually ease around the bend velodrome style. This grassy slope will also come in handy when Flemington hosts the 2010 Slip N Slide Word Championships.

ON COURSE NANDOS : No more pie and chips, now there are other exciting culinary options. Join the queue of sightseers and gasp and marvel at exactly how much of a mark up they can place on the same product from their normal outlets.

PRE BOOK CUP TICKETS : don’t forget this year you need to pre-book your Cup week tickets, so no grabbing a gorilla costume at the last moment and turning up on the day. Jockeys also get to pre-book their barriers for the Cup – with barrier 24 being quick to go with its uncluttered views of the spectacular roses lining the rails. You can also reserve your own blade of grass on the lawn – strictly no BYO and bags will be searched for cuttings.

STATUE OF BART : With Equine Influenza cutting into his stable and income, poor ol’ Bart has had to resort to some performance art, mainly busking and mimicking a stationary statue in order to earn a few extra bucks. Drop some loose change into one of this many Melbourne Cups as you wonder by. (See if you can spot the paragraph written before Derby Day…)

RAISED GRASS AREA : The lawn area has been raised, through a complicated series of seismic shifts, so that if you are standing on the lawn you can actually look OVER the rails. This is a major improvement, as previously, you were largely looking under the rails and trying to work out who had won the race based on which horse had the knobbly knees.

FLOOD WALL ALONG MARYBINONG RIVER : To protect against the 1 in 100 year flood, the river side of the course is now protected by a flood wall, to ensure viability of the Cup Carnival, whilst unfortunately drowning any resident unlucky enough to live on the other side of the river. Further enhancements planned include protecting the Cup carnival against 1 in 1,000,000 year comet strikes by launching a VRC satellite with nuclear warhead capability.

TUNNEL TO THE MOUNTING YARD : To avoid the crowds, the horses can now leave the stables and walk through an underground tunnel to the mounting yard. Unfortunately, like all tunnels under train stations, it is already covered in graffiti like “EL SEGUNDO woz here” and “MAKYBE DIVA sleeps with sires for money”.

THE NEW WINNING POST : With the Yellow Peril and Gas and Fuel Buildings long gone, Melbournians have been screaming out for a new landmark eye sore, and the VRC have kindly obliged with the cemetery inspired black wrought iron gate look for the new winning post.

THE NEW CLOCK TOWER : now digital. Jockey’s were often told to make their run at the clock tower, which meant making your run when the big hand was on the 3, and the little hand was on the 12. With a digital clock they can make their run to the millisecond.

THE NEW STEWARDS TOWER: forget the Edge at Eureka Tower, the new Steward’s Tower offers the best view over Melbourne. Don a suit, grab a pork pie hat and some binoculars and see if you can’t bluff you way up to use the new facilities including lap pool and billiards room.

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