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Poise Gone Wild: Spring Racing Etiquette

October 12, 2018

By M.J. Bale Staff

M.J. Bale’s ‘Poise Gone Wild’ 2018 spring racing theme is a cheeky nod to the importance of a gentleman’s composure – both sartorial and individual – throughout the spring racing period. We can help you with the former, but the latter is all on you, old boy. With that in mind, here are a quick few tips on how to get some racing poise and keep it.

1. Oh, Behave!

The most stylish thing any man can do at the races is to simply act like a gentleman. Boorish behaviour is just that: boring. We all know what it’s like: you’re dressed to the nines and are having a few drinks with a big group of mates; before you know it, the wind gets in your ears. Just remember a gentleman paces himself. He takes the long game approach rather than burning out early (and potentially burning any social bridges).

Think about the experienced Corey Brown — a two-time Melbourne Cup winner — riding Rekindling to victory at the 2017 Melbourne Cup. Drawing barrier four he cruised the first two thirds of the race, patiently biding his time. Approaching the 800-metre mark Brown eased Rekindling to just on the outside of Max Dynamite (who had darted inside). From there, as Brown told M.J. Bale earlier this year, “[jockey] Ben Melham skipped to the front at the 300 mark... I could see him counting the dollar signs before he’d even got them, and it was a bit like the old dog/young dog situation. He’d taken off a bit too early and from that point I was extremely confident I had the race won.” Make like Brown and reign it in early to finish a winner.

2. Man of Manners

With the sparkling revelry that is the spring racing carnival a gentleman’s manners can sometimes get lost amongst the crowds and betting stubs. A man of distinction is usually distinctive because of his manners, in particular, how he treats those he has nothing to gain by. Don’t forget to give everyone you come across – bar staff, security, new acquaintances etc. – the same level of respect you give the important people in your life. You never know when that random person you just dismissed will re-enter your life in another form, this time holding the whip of authority. Or worst: an in-law.

3. Listen Up

Ever met someone new in a social situation that babbled on and on about themselves and wouldn’t draw breath? Don’t let it be you. Make a plan to listen more than you speak and to ask questions: you’ll learn more about people and life than you already know, and as a bonus people will come away from the conversation thinking you’re a great bloke. We trot out this quote from Ernest Hemingway often, but only because it’s a gem. “When people talk listen completely,” Hemingway said. “Don’t be thinking what you’re going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling.”


4. Poise to Men

Poise AKA composure AKA grace under pressure is one of most valuable assets a gentleman can have. Not everything can or will go to plan; not everyone you run into socially will be a legend. In terms of the latter, if you come up against someone rude, aggressive or combative, don’t stoop to their level. A simple “I respectfully disagree” or “that seems a little rough, mate” is enough oxygen to give, then simply walk away. A gentleman has far better things to do, and much greater people to see.

5. Respect the Code:

A gentleman always respects the dress codes. For Derby Day that means black and white, or a monochrome riff (charcoals, greys etc.). Oh, and of course a gentleman would never think of wearing thongs, shorts or denim to spring racing events… although if you’ve read this far that’s not you anyway. For tips on what to wear to the spring races hit up our homepage. Best of luck for the carnival, gentlemen, remember to maintain your poise – both individually and sartorially.