Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull watches Melbourne Cup in Tamworth

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull might have looked out of place at Flemington Racecourse wearing an akubra instead of a jacket, but at the Tamworth Jockey Club, he looked right at home.

He was warmly greeted by his former deputy prime minister and current Nationals candidate for New England, Barnaby Joyce.

“Can I get in without a jacket?” he said to a security guard, laughing.

A few brave punters squeezed through the media scrum that was following his every step, to ask the Prime Minister for a selfie – and he was happy to oblige. 

In between selfies, Mr Turnbull and Mr Joyce swapped their tips for the race that stops the nation, before being whisked away to the club’s VIP lounge to watch the Melbourne Cup over a beer.

Mr Turnbull’s high-profile appearance comes as a show of support for his former second-in-command, who is campaigning to win back the seat of New England after being disqualified by the High Court.

While the most recent polls show Mr Joyce has strong support across the electorate, the Turnbull government has a lot riding on the New England byelection – without Mr Joyce, the Coalition has lost its one-seat majority.

The Prime Minister is the first senior politician to campaign alongside Mr Joyce during the byelection, but many more are expected to make an appearance, as the government goes on the charm offensive to avoid a New England dark horse victory.