I have just spent the last three days down at Flemington Racecourse…
Why, you ask? I was cleaning up rubbish that all the punters left behind over the Spring Carnival. Just kidding!
There is a little movie coming out in Australia called The Cup. The movie is about Damien Oliver and his story of his traumatic year leading up to winning the 2002 Melbourne Cup on Media Puzzle. A famous scene where he passed over the finish post kissing the sky, in dedication to his brother who lost his life in a riding accident that same year.
So for the past three days at Flemington they filmed the Spring Carnival race scenes. I was a strapper. This role includes saddling up horses, washing horses, grooming horses and most importantly holding horses.
As a journalist there is so much to report on from the stables and I have a moral dilemma inside. I think the movie is great for the country, a lot of friends are working on it and as a whole it is successful. In saying that, there is a field day of stories behind the scenes with the stables and how the horses are treated. So I am torn…
Day one was short for me as I had to pop over to the State Netball and Hockey Centre for my other job, the Melbourne Tigers had a game. We started at 8am, I finished at 3pm but most of the others didn’t finish until 8.30pm. Walking horses is a serious way to get some kilometres under your belt, unless you are the lucky few that have a horse that likes to stand still. We waited hours for camera angles to be set up, and the Director, Simon Wincer to be ready. On top of that the jockey’s had to learn their formations, this doesn’t always go to plan because animals, in the end do what they want anyway.
Day two was a 9am start. This sounds great because you start later, but this does mean lots of traffic. I would prefer to start at 7.30am and beat the traffic! However, the sun was shining all three days and that made life a lot easier, the whether picked the right days to turn it on. The duties were much the same as the first day, and when I say much the same I mean they were the same. I was happy to get a stand still horse for the second half of the day. We finished at 8pm.
Day three 8.30am start, again traffic was a problem. I did manage to sneak a conversation with Stephen Curry, the actor playing Damien Oliver. I have alway wanted to meet the guy, he is one of the funniest Australia has. You would probably remember him from The Castle, an Australian cult movie. It made me laugh because he is actually pretty scared of horses. But, there is no way he could get hurt, he is well protected. When he is riding the horse, he had a strapper either side with a lead rope to the bit and then two strappers at the back keeping the horses bum from turning. All the while they had to stay low so they did not end up in the shot.
Third day 8.15pm finish, and I wasn’t the last to leave.
We did get fed well. Cooked breakfast and lunch. I loved the experience, even though I think my calves are more sore now than after the half marathon. I did pick up a killer tan, ironic I know!