Left behind: Cans, bottles and wrappers.Left behind: Cans, bottles and wrappers. Photo: Justin McManus

If you can focus through your hangover, take a moment to reflect on who in your office gets most excited about the Melbourne Cup.

If it’s anything like workplaces I’ve graced, it’s the pissheads and gamblers followed by the flighty types who get excited over everything except their job; you know – the ones who organise the cake for people’s birthdays and come around with that big yellow envelope full of spare change asking you to “chuck in”.

Racegoers leave Flemington a huge mess, leaving the last to go to wade through an ocean of rubbish.Racegoers leave Flemington a huge mess, leaving the last to go to wade through an ocean of rubbish. Photo: Luis Ascui

Like Australia Day and Anzac Day, Cup Day is a uniquely Australian celebration that seems increasingly about getting slaughtered on the drink.

Lord knows I’ve got no qualms about boozing, yet its appeal is always diminished when the amateurs are out in force peeing and vomiting in the street – that’s the women – while the blokes stalk around with a watermelon under each tattooed arm, aching for someone to hold their gaze too long.

In this respect, Cup Day is an awesome opportunity to get some work done and just stay out of the fray.

2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist2014 Melbourne Cup winner Protectionist

It’s New Year’s Eve at 3pm with animal cruelty.

It’s a day when half of Australia dresses like the defendant in a one-punch assault case and the other half decides it’d be “fascinating” to wear a three dimensional depiction of the Road Runner’s autopsy on their head.

It’s best avoided.

As Bernard Keane pointed out on the Crikey website yesterday, even before the news that two of the runners in the Cup had died, there’s also the plight of the “equine athletes … forced to take part in being flogged around a paddock for the pleasure of 100,000 drunken halfwits”.

It’s always interesting listening to racehorse trainers talk about how much they “love” their charges and, in turn, how much the horses they steward “love” to race.

Aside from the “she likes it rough” creepiness of justifying inflicting pain on another creature, there’s the Dr Dolittle delusion you can know what another animal is thinking and feeling.

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph rehashed this trope in its editorial today writing: “Thoroughbreds are meant to run. They thrive on it”.

The obvious retort to this is why? Cannot that running be done without a dehydrated imp on top of the horse, caning them with a two-foot-long whip?

If a kid waving a flag at a horse can spook it into shattering its leg, what’s that say about the animal’s anxiety levels?

I don’t expect anybody but animal rights activists to give this a passing thought because one of the great uniting themes of being human is we assume we can do whatever the hell we want with animals; they’re here for our benefit.

To suggest otherwise makes you somehow bloodless or humourless.

The Australian‘s Chris Kenny wrote yesterday that people who’d question the virtue of the Melbourne Cup or horseracing “could suck the joy out of a birthday cake”.

Something tells me that birthday cake was made with full cream, factory-farm milk and butter.

If nothing else, the Cup is always a handy reminder Melbourne’s conceit of being Australia’s most “sophisticated” city is a case of pulling a skivvy on a bogan, if not applying lipstick to a pig.

The mounds of garbage and food left behind at Flemington, the drunks in tight suits in various states of repose, Geoffrey Edelsten in yellow satin proposing to his newest embryo, not one but two former Bachelors being feted in the corporate marquees and a spike in domestic violence statistics according to White Ribbon … it’s just so classy.

The day starts as the second panel of Hieronymus Bosch‘s Garden of Earthly Delights and devolves into the third panel by about 4pm.

And yet, it’s the horses that are the animals.

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