PERFECT conditions, a visit from the Prime Minister, punting and fashions – the 2017 Melbourne Cup Race Day at Tamworth Jockey Club was like no other.
While racegoers in Flemington were met with a day of drizzle on Tuesday, marking one of the coldest Melbourne Cups in more than a decade, Tamworth put on a postcard-perfect 24-degree day for the race that stops the nation.
And it couldn’t have been better timing, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull rolling through the gates of the TJC in a show of support for his former deputy prime minister and current Nationals candidate for New England, Barnaby Joyce.
When it came to the Melbourne Cup, the TJC frequent had his hopes set on Hartnell, trained by James Cummings and under the whip of jockey Damian Lane.
Though his $25-each-way bet failed to land him some extra weight in the hip pockets, Mr Horne said the annual Tamworth meet remained a staple on his racing calendar.
“I’ve been coming here for the last 10 years, and I’ve won every year I’ve come,” he told The Leader ahead of the feature 3pm race.
“There’s no Winx in it this year and Hartnell is trained by the king, James Cummings.”
Mr Horne, a former greyhound-turned-horse-trainer-turned-greyhound trainer again would love to see the Melbourne Cup become a public holiday in NSW.
“It would get more people out to see what racing is all about,” he said.
“It’s the number-one industry.
“To win a race on Melbourne Cup Day, that is the glory and venom of your life.”
In the bookkeepers’ stand, Glen Innes-based bookie Greg Burgess was keeping busy at his 40th Melbourne Cup at the TJC.
“I’ve been coming here for about 40 years,” he said.
“I got my licence when I was 16, and I keep coming back.
“But there’s no young bookies now
“I’d like to retire, but there’s no one coming through.
“It’s a dying trade. I’ve had my time.”
Punters weren’t the only ones hedging their bits, as throngs of ladies and gents rolled out to contest the Fashions on the Field competition.
Judge Dimity Smith, of Savvy Birds and Odds on Style, said she would be looking for lots of colour, straight lines, and lady-like attire for the classic section, and something a little edgier for the contemporary title.
Mika Langdon took out the classic dressed woman and Kristy Mackellar her contemporary counterpart.