Divas? day out
By CHRISTIAN STANGER
A RECORD crowd of 7000 turned out at Murwillumbah race course yesterday to see the running of an historic Melbourne Cup with all the flavour and colour of the local track.
Before a highly expectant crowd, Makybe Diva, the heavily backed crowd favourite, ran the race of her life to retain the Cup for a third straight year, cementing her place in racing history alongside the great Phar Lap.
At Murwillumbah, the tension in the air in the minutes leading up to the race was tangible.
Last bets were hurriedly placed and vantage points around TV screens were packed as punters cheered the great mare to an unprecedented Melbourne Cup hat-trick.
One of the main areas to catch the broadcast at Murwillumbah was a bar, wedged between two long lines of bookies, with hundreds of people packed into the area in anticipation of the main event.
The vocal crowd screamed at the TV sets throughout the race, urging their horses on, and as Makybe Diva made her final dash in the last 500m, muscling her way from the middle of the pack to the lead, the sound was deafening.
Silence fell as the crowd waited for confirmation of placings, before rapturous applause and jubilation filled the venue. Whether or not you backed Makybe Diva, it was hard not to be impressed by her gutsy run.
Many of the punters, of course, had backed the Diva to win, and helped themselves to payouts from the long-faced bookies lining the betting ring.
In all, NSW punters bet a record $56,040,711 on the Cup, 14.9 per cent up on last year, with Makybe Diva being the clear favourite paying $3.70 with TAB Sportsbet.
Queenslanders bet $26 million, up 18 per cent, with Makybe Diva again a major factor in the additional interest. Queensland bookies paid $3.80 for a win.
But while there may be a bit of extra money in some people's pockets today, there are also likely to be few a sore heads around the Tweed, with 30,000 cans of beer and who knows how much wine sold at Murwillumbah race course.
SOME of the joy of Makybe Diva's historic win was soured for punters wanting to watch the race when almost half of the 40 television screens being used to broadcast the event at the Murwillumbah racecourse failed to show the race, leaving many confused and angry.
Tweed River Jockey Club secretary manager Simon Quintner said a problem with the network had caused some of the televisions to fail.
"We apologise for the inconvenience when some of our televisions did not show the race. As opposed to having 40 televisions showing the race, we ended with only 21," he said.
Mr Quintner said he took responsibility for the problem.