Race day's welcome return

MURWILLUMBAH'S Melbourne Cup Day event made a shining comeback yesterday after its cancellation last year due to equine influenza.

President of the Tweed River Jockey Club Bernie Quinn said the event, held at the Murwillumbah Racetrack, was a roaring success -- with huge crowds, stunning fashions and great racing. "We are very happy," Mr Quinn said. "It's been a very comfortable day and the racing has been good. It's been wonderful."

The Melbourne Cup Day event, which combines local racing around the main race at Flemington, is the biggest day of the year for the club. Mr Quinn said the successful event had been running for the past 80-odd years.

Groups of young men and women dominated the crowds with many taking the chance to dress up, relax and enjoy a drink with their friends. "Our crowd numbers are probably down by about 500, but that's okay," Mr Quinn said. "By far, there were a lot of young ones and a lot of people we didn't know. Many come down from the Gold Coast." Punters watched television screens as Bart Cummings' Viewed came home to win the Melbourne Cup, followed by Bauer and C'est La Guerre in second and third places.

The weather held up for most of the afternoon, but began to drizzle in the lead-up to the big race at 3pm. But revellers didn't seem to mind. "We had one little shower, which was fine," Mr Quinn said.

"I think they had a lot worse on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane, so we have been very fortunate. And the track was in excellent condition."

Local beauties Amy Fritz, Mia Ikebe, Angie Croft, Toni Kelly, Emma Kelly and Belinda and Holly Julius soaked up the atmosphere on the main bar's balcony.

The girls, all from the Tweed area, said Murwillumbah's Melbourne Cup race day was excellent.

"It is more relaxed than the Gold Coast Turf Club," Toni Kelly said.

The girls, who admitted they didn't mind a few beverages, were checking out horses and the crowd. And even the impending rain didn't dampen their spirits.

"We love frolicking in the rain and we are about to do that, so we will probably get wet big-time," Miss Croft said.

Ned Thomas, 19, wearing a bright green suit, was annoyed he didn't win the men's side of the fashions in the field, but was still enjoying the day.

"It has been a pretty good day, it is the best races at Murwillumbah so far," he said.

Inspector Greg Jago of Murwillumbah police reported no issues in the afternoon yesterday, but police had a long night ahead of them targeting drink drivers and antisocial behaviour.



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