Wednesday 5 November 2008

The Race that Stopped a Nation


In fact, there have been two races that stopped the nation - and all in the one week.

Close to home, the $5.1 m Melbourne Cup, the World's greatest handicap race, and its winner, Viewed, set the country abuzz. It's the one event of the year that literally stops the entire nation in its tracks.

Australians love their leisure and worship their sport. Everyone, of every age and walk of life, stops to watch this race on the second Tuesday of every November. It's the one race where any horse can come up and win despite the odds. This year was no exception.

How close is that finish? The winner got the most out of his mount to secure a memorable victory by the barest possible margin - a nose. It’s the one time of the year a big nose comes in handy. It gives me great comfort just knowing that, truly.

Of course every year I have a ‘flutter’ and every year I lose. I am not a quitter though. It’s too much fun! It’s not every day you get to wear a hat and drink champagne all day starting before breakfast!

Likewise, the buzz surrounding the most important race of all, the US Presidential Election, came to fever pitch today. Congratulations to president elect Barack Obama. He has made history and everyone will remember this day for as long as they live. Never let it be said that a nation can stop a race ever again.

Of course, with every hard fought contest, there is not only a winner but also a loser.

It’s like yin and yang, positive and negative, action and reaction, my ex and me, Bush and Gore. Although, sometimes the gloss quickly wears off the winner and they too become losers.

However, no-one likes a sore loser. It’s much better to smile than to pout, shed tears, throw a temper tantrum, punch someone, cry unfair, ask for a recount or ring your lawyer. As hard as it may be. As every plastic surgeon will tell you, appearances are everything. Particularly when you have billions of cameras focused on you, waiting for the smile to crack and the tears to fall.

John McCain could hardly be described as a loser, in any sense of the word. He was absolutely gracious in defeat and extremely sincere in his wishes for the 44th President of the United States. He showed real class after a hard fought battle.

Australians, for some bizarre reason, are fascinated by losers. We cheer for the underdog, pull for the downtrodden, and love watching them get up and win. We even go so far as to bet on losers to win (even though that may be more a matter of greed since the odds are so much better. Plus, if the dark horse actually does win, like at the Melbourne Cup yesterday, then suddenly there are two losers who for once turned out to be winners).

Everyone knows how to win. It comes easy. However, since we all have to lose at one time or another, as I do at every Cup day, here are a few simple guidelines which hopefully will make you a better loser.

  1. Always smile and congratulate the winner, telling them how happy you are for them. Watch the Oscars to see how the professionals do it. Or better still, look to Susan Luci who missed out on an Emmy Award at least 5,000 times before she finally won one. Hopefully, you can be just a little bit more sincere then the Aussie cricket team who recently lost a cricket test to India. They suddenly forgot they had a TV audience of lip readers who recognised that the word they kept muttering over and over rhymed with the cricketing term ‘duck’.

  2. Memorise as many appropriate platitudes as possible, like “May the best man/horse win”, “Winning isn’t everything”, and “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.” Try to avoid saying things like, “Some things are more important than winning, like integrity and honesty”, “Cheaters never prosper”, “There are some defeats more triumphant than victories”, “The most dangerous moment comes with victory” or any word that rhymes with duck.

  3. Remind yourself that no one loses all the time. Even Sylvester Stallone made some good movies early on in his career.

  4. Know when to give up. Remember, Kenny Rogers once sang, “You have to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” Of course he didn’t take his own advice when it came to plastic surgery but he still has some winning songs, particularly after a few drinks at the races and some pathetic sounding Kareoke...

In all seriousness, I wish the USA and its citizens positive days ahead. Maybe a few more well intentioned platitudes will help for those who feel the need for them. "Change is as good as a holiday". "It was a race well fought to the end". "The best is yet to come". "Every cloud has a silver lining" and "winners are grinners and losers can please themselves".

Even more seriously, I salute all my American blogging friends because no matter which side of politics you sit, you showed the rest of the world exactly what your country means to you. You involved us all in this great race. It was a contest fought with a great deal of passion and heart. And that, at the end of the day, is what counts. Your love and pride for your country and your strong views on your place in the world speaks volumes.

Everyone is sure to win as a result. You should all have a glass of champagne. Seriously!

PS. Rhonda asked me the obvious question. Which horse won? The top horse in the photo won by a whisker!


  1. GREAT post Lilly!!!

    But tell me, please, which of those horses won?? lol

  2. I am blessed and fortunate to be an American. I sit here today even more proud of that than yesterday. We made history last night ss the entire world watched. GOD BLESS AMERICA!

    I also agree with you Lilly, John McCain was terrific last night. He is a humble, gracious man.

  3. This was a brilliant post. There is so much hope and excitement in our country today. I just really HOPE that once Obama is in office, he doesn't disappoint. I really do. That would be a shame.

    Did you enjoy the race? I'll have to ask my BIL and SIL about this race, as they live down there and she's a native.

    Just wondering, when is Australia's annual election day?

  4. Excellent post today, Lilly. You are a class act, very funny and insightful. Thank you!

    And yes, we all love an underdog, don't we? We all enjoy a triumph of the will, whether we are talking politics or sports. I have yet to see that in sports, as my geographical sports teams don't usually do so well.

    Hmmm. Now what rhymes with "duck"?

  5. sounds like you had a lovely, inspiring day at the races, Lilly.

  6. Yes, I too, feeled blessed and fortunate to be an American this morning and I agree that McCain was gracious in defeat. Now our real work begins. But what a night!
    And the horses are beautiful! I know how exciting that had to be!

  7. great post and so true! i was pulling for mccain and palin and though i do wish things would have gone MY way {haha} i can't help but be proud of my country and how far we have come. what a moment for America. no one would have believed even 30 years ago that an african american man could win the presidency. so that is something to be proud of. and how great was john mccain? with such a hard fought election trail as this one, the loss has to be just devestating. and not just to him but for many others. i wondered how in the world he would be able to speak to all of those heart broken people and make sense of it for them. he did beautifully. there was reason upon reason for all Americans everywhere to be proud of the country they live in last night. and it is so interesting to hear your view coming from the outside in.
    anyways that was long, but really, great post!

  8. Thank you so much for your post Lilly. My heart is so full this morning. God Bless America! I agree John McCain's speech last night was great. He is a very good man.

  9. Thanks, Lilly. It feels good to be an American again. I don't usually go in for that kind of gushy pride, and I usually don't like it. But I certainly will raise a glass of champagne. Nice post.

  10. P.S. You've got a great sense of humor.

  11. Rhonda I think it was the top one. That's my bet and I'm stickin' to it. Lilly, you're so right: Aussies love an underdog. So much so they created the Tall Poppy Syndrome to support their habit. They go for both with a vengeance. I love it :)

  12. Thank you, Lilly, for this thoughtful post. Both men were good candidates for America, because they believed in America as much as the people voting for them. We love our country and no matter if the person won that I voted for or not, I take pride in honoring the President and pray for his guidance for the next 4 years!

  13. Hey Lilly

    I love the four rules and funny enough they are the same rules that I live by and the kids follow, even my athlete embrasses these rules when she is competing!

    As for the horses I could clearly see that the to horse won, I used to date a Jockey. Even though I am 5.8 ~ short guy rule!

  14. There was dancing in the streets!

    The president-elect has a long road in front of him, but he not only got the majority vote but he got the electoral college by an incredible margin.



  15. And now we don't have to hear Sarah Palin's voice anymore!!!


  16. McCain did show a lot of class. Good for him! There should be more politicians like him.

  17. Thank you for the love from Down Under!!

    We appreciate it!!!!

  18. Hi Lilly ~ Your comment about Sylvester Stallone made me smile...the first Rocky was fab. I was annoyed with the first Rambo (First Blood) because it was a total rip-off of Lonely Are the Brave (Kirk Douglas)

    I watched Obama win last night and it was a truly historic moment and one which I think will benefit America and the rest of the world.

    Did you know that all gamblers secretly want to lose?


    ps thank you so much for looking me up...I'm under a lot of work pressure at the moment :)

  19. Even Sylvester Stallone made some good movies early on in his career.

    I'm struggling to recall any...!

  20. How exciting was it after such a long time. It may not be the result that everyone wanted but it is sure going to be better than what has been in place for the past few years. I love how you wove in the story of the horses with the election because regardless that is what its all about. In some ways its who makes it on the day and has no reflection on the true calibre of everyone pariticpating in the contest. Sometimes the best dont get up and then sometimes the ones who you least expect to do. We all have the chance to win and isnt that was has been proven with the election of the first black American President. Now after that lets have a woman President. Great, great post! Oh my the Australian cricket team - rhymes with duck, I am with Mr Bill, not sure what the hell you are getting at there.

  21. terrific post Lilly...
    I didn't even notice Viewed on the form guide....ah well that's all over for another year eh...ohhh but it IS fun while it lasts eh....
    I agree with your thoughts on the American Election....the Americans have done their country proud :)

    lol @ Sylvester a loser ...surely not!!....

  22. Thank you Lilly - you have a wonderful blog and are a terrific writer. I'm stealing the quote (see, I admit it!) for my own blog. Like many, I feel very proud to be an American today - and I think the election of Obama may finally be the healing we all need for the scar of racism and slavery that we have lived with since our country's inception. We have come a long way - now if we could just get over the "gays marrying" thing....

    Well, one day at a time! I'm breaking out the champagne.


  23. Hi Lilly!!
    I've love your post today! Thank you for thinking of us Americans!!
    Be a sweetie and thanks for coming by to share our reunion with me.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia :)

  24. This was funny and serious at the same time. I love horses and horse racing but do not frequent the races often. Interesting times ahead for the US and I am glad that it is seen as apopular choice right around the world. It is going to take a long time to fix the issues and I hope people do not get impatient. As for Sly Stallone - the first Rocky was good then after that it was all downhill. Too funny Lilly.

  25. Wonderful post, Lilly. It sounds like Cup Day is very similar to The Kentucky Derby, both in it's importance to your country and all the pomp and circumstance. I hope you had a terrific time despite your loss. Did your Dad have better luck?

    Thank you so much for your thoughts on our election. It has been the most bitter, disgusting and embarrassing political fight that we have ever experienced and I am so, so happy it is over. And, though my candidate did not win I truly love my country and hope we going to head in the right direction.

    I know the rest of the entire world wanted Obama to win, so maybe there can be a start of mending our image internationally. But, in any case, Obama has an incredibly difficult task ahead of him. He not only has to prove himself to the Republican party, he also has to prove himself to his own party - and that may actually be the more difficult task.

    Thanks for another great post, and for making me laugh with you terrific sense of humor.

  26. Wonderful post, and great advice.

    Last night was super, and I'm once again proud to announce that I'm an American!

    You are so right about McCain; he gave a gracious concession speech.

  27. What a great "race" blog. And while we congratulate the Australian and US winners, I remember Des saying he'd be going for the Races; Would love to hear his impressions too.

    And maybe you forgot one more phrase that we need to mug up when losing/winning: the "spirit" of the thing, the spiirit in which the game is played etc etc. The last test match begins today, and I hope everyone learns to behave, whether they win or lose, like Obama/Mccain/Viewed etc did.

  28. Well I must be an Australian at heart, for I always pull for the underdog. So which horse won?

    I agree John McCain did himself and our country proud with his gracious concession speech. I hope we all can pull together and make those changes that have been needed for a long time. I must say also that Obama was very inspirational with his speech.

  29. I'm honestly ready for change. Our country needs serious help and I hope things get better. Great post as always!

  30. thanks for your very lovely words, Lilly.
    and thanks, too, for the wisdom you impart. :)

  31. Loved this post it has been the most novel one I have read across the blogosphere on the election. Well done to you.

  32. Hi Lilly, what a great post. You brightened my day! I agree about McCain, his whole campaign was kind of disappointing (I was veeeeery tired of the whole smear campaign) but he was a very gracious loser. I actually liked him more after he lost!
    Thanks for the great morning inspiration!:)

  33. Excellent post - thought-provoking and with your usual wit on display!
    How's your sugar intake today?
    Just kidding!
    Sure is a privilege to be your blogging buddy/friend in this crazy internet world we belong to.
    Have a great day!

  34. Well said Lilly! There is a lot of hope in our country now and I hope that our new leader's actions are made for the good of our people and others elsewhere.
    ~Christine :)

  35. Holy Crap that's a close race!

  36. Hi Lilly, thoroughly enjoyed your post. I've never been to see a horse race, but I always have a flutter on the Grand National. I've even been known to pick the odd winner. As for the election, as you know, I'm not too fond of politics it really bores me. However, I did enjoy seeing the aftermath of the election and it was great to see McCain being so dignified in defeat.

  37. Thank you Lilly - for not making us feel like "Ugly Americans" as so many do. And thank you for recognizing that although we don't do everything right, we want to make change...and peace.

    Those words mean everything.

    When I was young, I loved Aussies purely for their accents. As I got older, I loved their fun-loving ways, and as I'm even older yet...I feel a sort of kinship with you guys. It may not make sense to anyone but me...but damn if I wish our countries weren't so far apart.

  38. I am writing here to thank you for stopping by my place to send your well wishes for my daughter. She is on the mend :) Thank God!

    I also wanted to say how awesome I think it is that your father writes on your blog! That is AWESOME, I am inspired! Calling my folks now :)

    Much Love to you

    Carly x

  39. It was a great race! He won by a nostril!

  40. Amazing post and I agree sometime having a big nose has its advantages.That was really a close race!

    Reminds me of my dad - loved horse races and gambling!

  41. um, what's with the horse closer to the camera? it's tiny! look at its length relative to the big fella. and look at the jockey on the foreground horse - he's way ahead. that horse gets my vote for courage, even if the other equine was fortunate enough to get the longer nose awarded to him in the gene pool. come to think of it, obama has a wonderful nose, too. hmmmm....

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  43. Very nice. Thank you for your kind thoughts of unity.

    No more champagne, I've had enough. Seriously! ;o)

  44. Can you believe that that nose was the difference between winning millions and 800 thousand (or something like that).

    Love the underdog mentality! Never giving up on someone...awesome Aussie trait!

  45. I was very pleased with myself recently when I was with the kids and a driver was very rude to us as we crossed the road. I was very polite and wished them a good day as they drove by waving the finger. My daughter was very impressed.

  46. Obama winning the presidential race made me proud of our country and proud to be an American on this great day.


Thanks for your comments.