'Drunken and depraved': Carnival carnage at the Melbourne Cup

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Melbourne Cup punters, pictured here looking worse for wear.
There won't be any drunken punters in attendance at the 2020 Melbourne Cup. Image: Getty

Melbourne Cup day will look very different in 2020, with fans and connections banned from Flemington due to COVID-19 restrictions.

First run in 1861, the Melbourne Cup is a cultural institution that usually sees up to 100,000 well-dressed punters flock to Flemington, with boozy parties held nationwide.

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Despite hopes that some sort of crowd would still be allowed on Tuesday, the Victoria Racing Club conceded it would not be possible.

“While we are very disappointed not to be able to welcome our members and racegoers to Cup Week, we understand the (Victorian) government’s commitment to keeping our community safe,” chairman Amanda Elliott said in a statement.

“We also recognise the need for certainty and clarity for our patrons.”

Elliot said the Melbourne Cup would stage a number of events that viewers can participate in at home to keep everyone engaged throughout the day.

“What is certain is the Melbourne Cup Carnival will go ahead with viewing audiences watching from across Australia and around the world,” she added.

“The spirit of Cup Week, the high quality racing and the 160th running of the People’s Cup will be enjoyed by millions.”

‘Decadent and depraved’ Melbourne Cup history

Without anyone in attendance, Australia will be deprived of the annual Melbourne Cup gallery of shame - the photos that go viral every Wednesday after the race of punters enjoying a few too many beverages.

While the event is world-renowned, it is usually the behaviour of spectators at Flemington that makes global headlines.

In 2016, American journalist Bill Haisley described the Melbourne Cup as “decadent and depraved”.

“It's not until you see these photos of the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most drunken and depraved horse racing event, that you can really understand just how out of hand [they] can get,” Haisley wrote for Deadspin.

“Following the proud British tradition of getting equal parts dolled and f****d up at horse races - it is a perfect event for young and old alike to don their finest of outfits and guzzle copious amounts of alcohol.

Racegoers, pictured here resting after 2016 Melbourne Cup day.
Racegoers rest as they make their way home following 2016 Melbourne Cup day. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

“The entire state of Victoria even gets the day off from work, since Melbourne Cup day has been decreed an official local holiday.

“There is a lot of booze. There is a lot of littering. There is a lot of smiling. There is, for whatever reason, a whole lot of falling/lying on the ground.

“All of these factors combined create opportunities for some marvellous photography.”

That year the The International Business Times also had a crack.

“Australia's most prestigious horse race descended into Australia's biggest party, as the booze kept on flowing long after the Melbourne Cup had run,” they reported.

“Around 100,000 spectators enjoyed the big day at Flemington racecourse - some rather more than others.

“Judging from these photos, the police must have been kept busy. Stewards had to step in to break up brawls, and several punters were carried away in ambulances.

“The Melbourne Cup is known as 'the race that stops the nation'. Perhaps this is because revellers are so hung-over the next day that they can't move.”

With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look back at some of the wildest photos in Melbourne Cup history:

Revellers, pictured here enjoying Melbourne Cup festivities in 2015.
Revellers enjoy Melbourne Cup day festivities in 2015. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
A racegoer, pictured here enjoying a lie down at the 2016 Melbourne Cup.
A racegoer enjoys a lie down at the 2016 Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
A drunk punter, pictured here at Melbourne Cup day in 2018.
A drunk punter removes his socks and shoes at Melbourne Cup day in 2018. (Photo by Chris Putnam / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
A racegoer, pictured here riding a rubbish bin at the 2016 Melbourne Cup.
A racegoer rides a rubbish bin following the 2016 Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Punters, pictured here after a long day at the 2018 Melbourne Cup.
Punters look on after a long day at the 2018 Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Chris Putnam / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Drunk punters, pictured here wrestling at the end of the 2017 Melbourne Cup.
Drunk punters wrestle at the end of the 2017 Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Chris Putnam / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Punters, pictured here at the end of Melbourne Cup day in 2017.
Punters pictured at the end of Melbourne Cup day in 2017. (Photo by Chris Putnam / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Melbourne Cup punters, pictured here at the end of a very long day in 2018.
Melbourne Cup punters at the end of a very long day in 2018. (Photo by Chris Putnam / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
A couple, pictured here drinking beer after the Melbourne Cup in 2003.
A couple drinks beer and parties after the Melbourne Cup in 2003. (Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images)
Drunk punters, pictured here wrestling in the bushes after the 2018 Melbourne Cup.
Drunk punters wrestle in the bushes after the 2018 Melbourne Cup. (Photo by Chris Putnam / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

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