Tamworth Melbourne Cup Day wraps up with punters, PM and plenty of fashions

FILLIES: Kristy Mackellar and Jacinta Mannion soak up the trackside action. Photo: Peter Hardin
FILLIES: Kristy Mackellar and Jacinta Mannion soak up the trackside action. Photo: Peter Hardin

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.

MEGA GALLERY: Melbourne Cup Day in Tamworth and the Tamworth Jockey Club

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets and greets. Photo: Peter Hardin

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets and greets. Photo: Peter Hardin

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.

READ MORE: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull watches Melbourne Cup in Tamworth

Punters were out in force at the club for the five-race card. Among them was former Gunnedah horse owner Michael Horne.

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.

READ MORE: Melbourne Cup across the New England and North West

“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.”

READ MORE: Tamworth's Mitch Salter snapchats with PM Malcolm Turnbull in Tamworth on Melbourne

In the bookkeepers’ stand, Glen Innes-based bookie Greg Burgess was keeping busy at his 40th Melbourne Cup at the TJC.

BOOKIES: (Back) Barry Luxford with (front L-R) Greg Burgess, Neville Yates and Garry Burgess. Photo: Gareth Gardner

BOOKIES: (Back) Barry Luxford with (front L-R) Greg Burgess, Neville Yates and Garry Burgess. Photo: Gareth Gardner

“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.”

READ MORE: Tamworth Business Chamber hosts Melbourne Cup 2017 breakfast

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.

SHOW-STOPPER: Mahthew Byrnes, centre, wins mens' fashions on the field. Photo: Peter Hardin

SHOW-STOPPER: Mahthew Byrnes, centre, wins mens' fashions on the field. Photo: Peter Hardin

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.

Matthew Byrnes was named best-dressed gentleman for the Melbourne Cup Day yellow rose in his suit pocket.