Melbourne Cup racegoers have suffered major delays in travelling to Flemington after protesters blocked train tracks and scaled a crane to denounce Australia’s treatment of refugees on Manus Island.
Passengers were forced to walk along train tracks to reach ‘racing headquarters’ ahead of the running of the $6.2 million Melbourne Cup.
A graffiti-laden car, left on the tracks to stop trains running, was adorned with messages like ‘Evacuate Manus’ while a banner, left nearby, read ‘Australia supports cruelty to people and animals’ on our nation’s biggest day of horse racing.
A man was arrested for the stunt, Seven News reported.
At the course proper, protesters scaled a crane at Flemington to display a banner reading ‘SOS: Evacuate Manus Now’.
Whistleblowers, Activists & Citizens Alliance took responsibility for the protest on Twitter.
— WACA (@akaWACA) November 7, 2017
Metro Trains warned passengers that while “police are attending to the issue”, significant delays were expected.
The protesters stole some attention before the Cup, but a big crowd of approximately 90,000 roared as Rekindling went on to win the big race ahead of Johannes Vermeer and Max Dynamite.
Meanwhile in the marquees, Dutch supermodel Lara Stone confessed she thought the Melbourne Cup was “tennis” when she was invited by Emirates to be their guest of honour.
“My agents asked me to come to the Melbourne Cup and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s a bit far and what even is it? Is it tennis? I had to Google it,” Stone told The New Daily.
Along with Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris, 33-year-old Stone was one of the much-trumpeted international guests paraded in the Birdcage every year for an inordinate sum of money.
Sitting in the luxe marquee, which was a replica of the A380’s first class bar, Stone admitted she was feeling fairly discombobulated.
“I’m confused that it looks like an airplane and I haven’t even seen outside yet, so it’s going to be a whole new world,” she said.
“I haven’t seen a horse yet.”
The statuesque blonde and her friend Maren arrived late Saturday night, arriving in tracksuits at Crown Towers to “many people lying on the floor” after Derby Day.
“It was too much,” Maren told TND with a laugh.
When they woke early from jetlag to talk a walk around the hotel and casino, there were still people milling about from the night before.
Being at the Cup as a big-name guest is a bizarre experience for a visiting celebrity, who must contend with mass media attention, selfies with strangers, the spectacle of horse racing and the pressure of corporate interests.
Take 19-year-old Paris Jackson, who was flown out as Myer’s special guest.
While the department store had hoped she would wear a custom-made dress from designer Alex Perry, the daughter of music royalty put up a fight and refused to wear it.
She instead opted for a casual combo of a floaty, informal rust-coloured dress by Morrison (thankfully, a Myer brand) and her own boots, looking more like an attendee at a music festival than the race that stops the nation.
After making an appearance at the media wall, Jackson was whisked inside to do a small handful of interviews before settling in to a corner, cut off from the rest of the marquee by her four-person entourage, to sip champagne and avoid mingling with fellow guests.
-with Susannah Guthrie