Top shelf racing, stunning fashions and an exciting atmosphere have drawn thousands of revellers to a memorable Ballarat Cup.
Ballarat Turf Club Chief Executive Officer Lachlan McKenzie described the day as a mixture of innovation and tradition, with Ballarat’s debut Magic Millions Classic clockwise race adding a modern twist to Ballarat’s proud racing history.
Mr McKenzie said horses from the best stables in Australia helped to pull in the best crowd attendance for a number of years.
The weather gods also shone on the event and many racegoers eagerly soaked up the sunshine and blue skies.
The Turf Club pre-sold 2000 admittance tickets, with about 10,000 people in total estimated through the gates.
“It’s completely exceeded expectations on crowd behaviour and weather,” Mr McKenzie said.
“We’ve had 30,000 pre-sold hospitality packages and we sold out every dining spot we could on the course.”
Highlights of the day included the Magic Millions Clockwise Classic and the reverse race - a crowd favourite on the day.
Racing for a $5,000 first prize, 25 competitors selected from a barrel draw ran a 100 metre race backwards.
“The reverse race brought down the house - it was great to see a bit of humour,” Mr McKenzie said.
Later, came the race everyone was waiting for, the Sportsbet.com.au Ballarat Cup.
Punters gathered around the track to witness King Diamond jockey Brad Rawiller achieve a treble and win his third Ballarat Cup in a row.
Off the track, a huge amount of interest was received for the Fashions on the Field, while bands and DJs kept the crowd entertained.
Mr McKenzie said the atmosphere was a combination of relaxed social activity and excitement.
“With all the different types of packages for people to come out and enjoy themselves, from top end marquees to family picnics, there has been something for everyone,” he said.
“It shows the work the Ballarat Turf Club has done to really bring in racing as a sport, not just for diehard fans, but for families and different groups of people.
“We’ve pushed hard to make sure everyone in Ballarat knows what the turf club does and what happens on cup day.
“There is no doubt that this is the biggest social event on the Ballarat calender as well as sporting event.”
Mr McKenzie said planning for next year’s Cup would begin immediately.
The Turf Club has applied to Racing Victoria to move the event to a Saturday, an initiative which was expected to boost numbers even further, Mr McKenzie said.