This year’s Melbourne Cup may have come and gone but is hardly an event to be forgotten.
Such has become the ritual for those who faithfully become a part of the annual Australian horse racing event that doesn’t just bring Australia but much of Fiji to a halt, that they and even some first timers are already awaiting next year’s event.
The city of Suva came to a standstill as punters gathered around betting centres, clubs, restaurants and hotels to watch the $5.5 million race.
The atmosphere at the Holiday Inn was electrifying as people began gathering just after lunch time although the race proper started just after 4pm (Fiji Time).
While the guys enjoyed a drink or two and chatted, it was time for the ladies to show off their fancy costumes and colorful decorated hats on which they had spent a lot of time and money.
Prior to the race, defending champion Viewed alongside Roman Emperor and Allez Wonder all horses that were trained by seasoned trainer Bart Cummings, were favorites with some punters also putting their bet Alcopop.
But when all was said and done, it was Shocking, trained by Mark Kavanagh and ridden by Corey Brown, that prevailed and “shocked” all those that hadn’t given the horse a second glance.
Saeed Suroor’s Crime Scene which led the race into the last 200 metres of the final had to settle at second place after slowing down in the last 100m while Mourilyan finished off in second place.
American visitor Delores Darcia was one of those who did put their money on Shocking.
Darcia who arrived from Washington, USA three days before the event, was part of the large crowd at the Holiday Inn to witness the annual horse race live on the big screen.
Darcia said this was her first time to gamble and having had a taste at winning had inspired her to bet again next year.
“My husband Vince told me that Shocking was not a favourite to win but since I liked his name I betted on him,” Darcia said.
“The win is another reason to celebrate while holidaying here in Fiji and I hope to come back next year and bet.”
Delores and Vince are frequent visitors to Fiji. They own a villa in Pacific Harbour and with Vince retiring next year, Delores says they plan to settle in Fiji.
Among the local fans that Fijilive sports caught up with during the day were two senior citizens Samisoni Tamanikalou of Naloto, Tailevu and Chaand Kuar of Vatuwaqa.
Tamanikalou, 68, said he traveled to Suva the day of the race just...