The Melbourne Cup is known as “the race that stops a nation”. Victoria declares it a public holiday, and people around Australia stop work to watch the race or celebrate the day at a local pub or gathering.
Productivity* in the workplace goes way down on Cup Day and some note that 3pm on that first Tuesday in November would be a good time for a foreign power to invade our shores because all our eyes are fixed on 24 horses galloping over 3200m.
But this year as we re-open after Covid lockdowns, especially in Victoria, the Melbourne Cup was being seen as the race that restarts Melbourne and a nation. It was the first big event in the southern city that had the public attending in reduced numbers and signalled the start of our return to normality.
Every year I always draw a cartoon on the winner of the cup. Sometimes it’s about the winning trainer, like Bart Cummings who guided 12 horses to victory in the race. Sometimes it’s about the horse owners or even the weather, but more often than not it’s about the horse.
The horses are the stars and deserve all the attention and I love to draw them.
Horses are like people, they have distinct personalities. When I draw them I sometimes like to give them human personality traits that befit their nature or status. This is called anthropomorphism.
Some of them are like rock stars, with a huge public following. Horses like Winx, Black Caviar, Makybe Diva and Phar Lap have all brought people in their thousands to racetracks around Australia over the years.
This year the race did not disappoint, and on a stunning Melbourne day we saw the mare* Verry Elleegant get up and beat the favourites to win.
With a name like that I felt I had to draw something to do with the fashion aspect of the Melbourne Cup. Cup fashions almost attract more attention than the horses!
I started with the horse itself, a good looking black and brown thoroughbred* mare, its racing colours of red and blue and the jockey James McDonald.
Then I noted that the Fashions on the Field* were not being held this year due to Covid-19 restrictions, so that made me think that there was an opportunity for our horse to participate in the fashion stakes as well!
I started sketching Verry Elleegant in all sorts of outfits that you might see at the Cup, and finally I decided to settle on a frilly number in her red and blue racing colours. I added bloomers, the customary huge hat and finished her off with a set of high heels with bows, lip gloss and the now regulation eyelash extensions! I’m no fashionista*, but the pony looked “verry elleegant” indeed!
As she passes the winning post someone in the crowd declares she has not only won the race but the fashion stakes as well!
The Melbourne Cup is a handicap race. That means the better horses are given extra weight to carry to try to even up the field. Verry Elleegant carried a top weight of 57 kgs, which made her win all the more impressive. In my cartoon she has just run the 3200m in high heels; that’s quite a handicap as well!
- productivity: the amount of work being done
- mare: an adult female horse
- thoroughbred: a horse with parents that are of the same breed and have good qualities
- Fashions on the Field: a competition for the best dressed person at a horse racing event
- fashionista: a person who loves to follow fashion trends
- How far do horses run in the Melbourne Cup?
- Name one of the horses that Mark Knight mentions as having had a huge following over the years.
- What is the name of the horse that won this year’s Melbourne Cup?
- Why did Mark Knight draw this horse in a dress?
- As well has carrying 57kg, what does Mark Knight say her other handicap was?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. What Happens Next?
Imagine this cartoon is part of a story that is made up of three cartoons. The three cartoons tell a complete story, and Mark’s cartoon is the start of the story. Think about what the story could be and draw the next two cartoons that tell the story.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Visual Arts, Visual Communication Design, Critical and Creative Thinking
Being able to draw is only one of the skills needed to be a great cartoonist. Write a list of all of the other skills that you think cartoonists like Mark need to do their job.
Next to each skill, write a sentence that explains why that skill is important or helps them to do a great job.
Time: allow at least 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Personal and Social Capability, Media Arts, Visual Communication Design
Stretch your sentence
Select a “who” in the cartoon – the jockey or the horse. Write it down.
Add three adjectives to describe them better.
Now add a verb to your list. What are they doing?
Add an adverb about how they are doing the action.
Using all the words listed, create one descriptive sentence.