Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON
The weather forecaster got it right and we've had a wet start to the weekend - but no one's complaining. As I've mentioned before, we're in the grip of drought and we have severe water restrictions, so the rain has really been a big relief. This shot was taken in my garden and the rose in the photograph is called Chicago Peace. They are huge roses, very highly scented and last for days in vases.
For most Victorians, this is going to be a four-day weekend, with schools closed on Monday and the Melbourne Cup public holiday the next day. The Melbourne Cup, for those of you who are not familiar with horse racing, is a 3200m race that literally brings the entire country to a standstill. It is held on the first Tuesday of November and so far it looks like the weather will be fine on the big day.
The trophy is an 18-karat gold, three-handled cup that is one of the most coveted trophies in the world. The first time a foreign horse won the Cup was the Irish-owned Vintage Crop in 1993 and this achievement in turn brought a new dimension to the race. Last year, the Japanese-owned Delta Blues became the first Asian horse to take the trophy.
But for me, the most stirring moment in Melbourne Cup history came after the decision by jockey Damien Oliver to ride in the 2002 Cup, immediately after the sudden death of his brother Jason, also a jockey, who succumbed to injuries sustained in a race fall. But Damien Oliver saddled up bravely for the Cup, wearing his brother's breeches - and rode Media Puzzle to victory.
In a spine-tingling moment, he saluted the heavens in a heartfelt tribute to his brother. Then, with tears streaming down his face, he said, ``The Melbourne Cup doesn't mean anything to me any more. I'd give it away right now to have my brother back.'' As a sportswriter, I've seen many emotional moments on the international stage, but none to quite compare with that afternoon at Flemington Racecourse.