Leading horse trainer Gai Waterhouse has railed against a controversial rule change for the Melbourne Cup that allows men to wear shorts to ‘The Race That Stops a Nation’.
From next Tuesday, members aged 12 or above will be allowed to wear shorts – but only in the members area of Flemington and only if the articles of clothing meet certain conditions.
Meanswear designer Arthur Galan told Channel 10 that he was stunned that the Victorian Racing Club had allowed the progressive measure.
‘I am surprised because the VRC can be a little bit conservative, but time for change,’ he said.
‘It’s a a good thing.’
However, Waterhouse is having none of it.
New Victorian Racing Club rules mean men can wear shorts in the members area of Flemington for the very first time in the long history of the Melbourne Cup (pictured, a male model wears shorts at the Cup Carnival launch on Monday)
Veteran trainer Gai Waterhouse was shocked by the announcement, calling the idea ‘silly’ and urging the VRC to stick with tradition
‘It’s ridiculous, I think it’s the silliest thing I’ve ever seen,’ she said.
‘I’m not going to Bondi Beach, or Altona. You’re coming here, you’ve got to dress for the occasion.
‘I saw the bloke [model] with the shorts on, and I thought, you’ve got to be joking. Maybe I’m old-fashioned.’
The announcement is not a green light for blokes to wear stubbies and thongs to the races, though. There are conditions.
The shorts have to be tailored with a matching tie and jacket and they must sit on or below the knee.
‘This is not about becoming casual or relaxing rules,’ VRC chairman Neil Wilson said.
‘It’s the opposite … This is not a case of anything goes.’
Waterhouse is not alone, though. The concept of men wearing shorts to the races has been universally panned with many social media users saying it makes them look like ‘overgrown school kids’.
While there is a mandatory dress code for the members area, people can still dress casually in the general areas of Flemington
‘They look like toddlers at Easter mass,’ one replied.
‘Are school kids allowed at the races unsupervised?’ another asked.
‘The current generation trying desperately to not grow up,’ posted another.
While Waterhouse, the daughter of legendary trainer Tommy Smith, was shocked by the shorts announcement, she is still looking forward to her favourite time of the year.
‘I came here as a teenager,’ she said.
‘My mum wouldn’t let me come as a kid, I came as a teenager, and my first trip to Flemington was in the back of an old-fashioned Rolls-Royce, I think.
‘A man called John Newton and his mate took my girlfriend and me to the races, and we sat up the back having a glass of champagne and a chicken wing, and we stopped by the police, and they had a bit of the chicken and a glass of champagne. That wouldn’t happen nowadays, but it was a happy memory just from the start.
‘I love it, I think it’s one of the great racing events of the world, and they do it so well, the VRC, and Racing Victoria backing them.’