The Melbourne Cup has long been an institution, a day of celebration that marked our national identity and passion for enjoying life.
It's not only about the gambling, it's also about people getting together with friends or colleagues to let their hair down.
For many workers, it's about office sweeps, nibblies and watching an event of national significance as a group.
But change appears to be happening to "the race that stops a nation" and the way horse racing is perceived in Australia.
The Melbourne Cup has become a polarising topic, amid the rise of animal welfare activism, social media and veganism.
Victory in Tuesday's big race for Hunter Valley-bred horse Vow and Declare underlined the region's lasting connection with horse racing.
The Hunter is renowned worldwide for being Australia's horse-breeding capital. Our horse-racing heritage spans more than 150 years of thoroughbred breeding.
Read more: Melbourne Cup attendance continues decline
The industry employs thousands of people in the region. It's part of our fabric.
Furthermore, horse racing is part of Australia's history. Champions such as Phar Lap, Winx, Black Caviar and Makybe Diva are spoken almost in the same breath as Don Bradman, Cathy Freeman, Ian Thorpe and Dawn Fraser.
Nevertheless, the polarisation of horse racing was evident on Twitter on Tuesday, with the top two trending hashtags being #melbournecup2019 and #NupToTheCup.
Protests against the Melbourne Cup followed an ABC 7.30 program last month, titled "The dark side of the horse racing industry". The special investigation revealed hundreds of registered racehorses - including some that had earned large amounts of prize money - were being killed at slaughterhouses. The program also documented cruel treatment towards racehorses.
Furthermore, a Senate inquiry is examining the feasibility of a National Horse Traceability Register for all horses to address animal welfare and biosecurity concerns.
There have been calls to make horse racing more humane by banning whips and tongue ties and improving racehorse retirement. There's also concern that too many horses are being bred.
US singer Taylor Swift hit the headlines in September when she dropped out of performing at the Melbourne Cup, following a petition that urged her to take a stand against animal abuse.
Despite the protests, the Melbourne Cup remains an event that is enjoyed by a huge number of people. But this doesn't mean the industry shouldn't receive scrutiny and oversight and be subject to fair and reasonable reforms that meet today's standards.
If the industry wants to survive and prosper, it must react to constructive criticism and develop an ethical and sustainable model for the future. The Hunter can play a part in this, while making sure the industry is given a fair go.