Raylene ready for the big race
IT WAS a trip to the Cup in the 1960s that hooked former Melbourne local Raylene Swain.
Each year the Warner St resident celebrates the running of the Melbourne Cup in one way or another - from wearing a fancy hat to work to partying with friends.
Today more than 50 friends will gather at the Swains' residence for one of the many race day parties in the Rose City.
"It's becoming bigger than Ben Hur," she said.
"It started off with the Weight Crunchers girls, then the Warwick Artists Group - everyone's bringing a plate to share."
The idea to host a party at her home was inspired by one of her previous celebrations at a friend's house.
In August last year the Swains lost their home to a fire, with their new home rising from the ashes earlier this year.
"This is the first time I've had a Melbourne Cup party at my own house," Mrs Swain said.
"I thought it's a lovely way to pay it forward - repay some of the people who helped us."
In the spirit of the occasion, there will be sweeps, champagne and nibblies - followed by a screening of the big race on a television on the veranda.
Betting is all part of the Cup tradition and Mrs Swain has a few hot tips for today's big race.
"I'm going with Mum's ideas - backing the word royal and colours," she said.
"I'm back Royal Diamond, Red Cadeaux and the Japanese horse Admire Ratki."
In the 1960s Mrs Swain had a big win at the Cup, enough to pay for a new roof for her mother's house.
"It's been a long time between big wins - you've got to bet big to win big," she said. "I only ever really bet a dollar each way."