For some reason, the SE Queensland Ekka public holiday ("People's Day) is on a Wednesday. Many families use this day for going to the Ekka, but it is rare that you will see young adults there. This is because the Doomben racecourses host "Young Peoples Day", which is essentially just a good excuse for uni students and young professionals to get both dressed up and drunk.
I had only had a couple drinks when we hopped on the train, which is possibly why I didn't find the trip nearly as enjoyable as many of the people there. The ride into the city was painstakingly slow. We first had to wait in line for thirty minutes solely to get tickets, since the electronic ticket machines were broken; then we had to wait another fifteen minutes for the train because they were running on a Sunday/public holiday/many many fewer trains timetable. When we got off that train, packed with both race- and Ekka-goers, we realized we had missed the Doomben train by a minute, meaning we had twenty-nine more to wait in Central station. We all wondered whose stupid idea it was to run less trains on the public holiday designed to get people out to local events.
When we finally got off at Ascot station, the course looked like the last thing it needed was another drunken mob of students. There was a huge line outside, which included people we knew that arrived an hour before us. Luckily, we avoided waiting in this line for too long because the waiting throngs became so huge that they stopped charging admission. Apparently, so many people were trying to get through the gates that it was becoming dangerous to stop and hand your money over for a ticket, since you could get crushed.
Since we had member’s stand tickets ($17.50 but very worth it), we navigated towards the eastern end of the stands when we finally made it inside. Unfortunately, this was when I turned around to look where James’ friend was and turned back to find that James had completely disappeared. Not knowing where to turn, I waited and eventually went with his friend to find his other friends. I didn’t want to abandon James, but since it was impossible to call anyone (the network was jammed and no one could get through), it took me an hour to get in touch with James and find a place to meet. I wasn’t happy at all at having to stand on tables in an attempt to find him, but we finally found each other.
It was then that James actually tried to get into the member’s stand for the first time. As I mentioned before, everyone was dressed up—women in dresses and guys in suits. James had worn a tie the previous year, but this year had decided that it was only a pain and there was no point. Unfortunately, the member’s stand security did not agree, and pointed to the dress code sign, which said strictly no men without a tie. Not wanting to waste his ticket, we tried to search for other ways in, and were eventually directed to a “gift shop”, which had one tie left for the ridiculous price of $20. It was a wonderful sunflower print that fell apart shortly after getting into the stands.
Even with all the effort it took to actually get into the members stand, it was very worth it. We could see the packed crowd, barely moving at all, and his friends later said that it took upwards of thirty minutes to get a beer and even more for a woman to go to the bathroom. Our lines were five minutes at most for alcohol and I had three girls waiting in front of me for the toilet! It was definitely a good investment.
I had a lot more fun from then on. We even got to see the last of eight horse races, which James decided to bet on. Before doing so, he came over to me and asked which horse he should pick, Step Right In or Scattergun. Both had fairly high odds, but I told him to go with Step Right In…so of course, he chose Scattergun. I decided this was a good time to start making fun of his horse—why not, when he wouldn’t listen to me?—to which he told me that I can’t make fun of anyone until I had a bet as well. So, I quickly put down a $10 bet on Step Right In and watched the race.
A horse named My Son Day got first, but more importantly, Step Right In got third! This meant that I got $11 (wahoo, a $1 return!) while James lost all of his, since we didn’t even see Scattergun come in. It served him right for asking me for advice and then not listening to it!
In the end, I enjoyed my day at the races, even though I didn’t consume very much alcohol at all. The only problem was getting there—it’s definitely a good idea to leave early, so you can see more than 1 of the races!