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