Fun first past the post as crowds flock to Gold Coast Turf Club for big race

AUSTRALIA’S richest horse race was a debutantes’ ball of sorts for many of those among the more than 7,000-strong crowd who celebrated it at the Gold Coast Turf Club.

From Fashion on the Fields contestants and judges to diners in The Dome, the Cocoon corporate party people and Mercedes-driving VIP lunch guests, there were firsts aplenty throughout the Bundall precinct.

Gregoire Berr (it’s French for Greg Bird!) made his debut as a Fashion on the Fields judge alongside wife Becky and Bulletin Fashion Police columnist, Jay Pask.

“Who am I wearing? I dressed myself,” the former Titans star said.

Mrs Bird, a stylish standout in a black Jay Pask dress, said her husband was kitted out courtesy of NSW rugby league.

“He’s wearing his NSW Origin suit from this year – the winning suit,” she said.

Rachel Hayes, from Caboolture, whose jockey husband David Hayes was racing in Rockhampton, was judged best dressed female.

“We were looking for something bold that makes a statement but that above all screams individual,” Mr Pask said.

Melbourne Cup activities at the Gold Coast Turf Club – Greg and Becky Bird helpred with Fashion in the Field judging Photo: David Clark

Another first-timer, best dressed male Beau Rogers, 28, from Tallai, was resplendent in his handmade wooden bow tie from local company, Wood & Beau.

“I didn’t want to enter but I got pushed into it by my friends,” he said.

Almost 2000 people sat down and dined out in the turf club’s restaurants and bars – the function centre not included.

“Almost 90 per cent of people who came last year booked in again this year,” club spokesman Richard Towson said.

Best dressed in the Fashions on the Field were Rachel Hayes and Beau Rogers. Photo: David Clark

The Gallery and Skyliner restaurants which front the track were sold out while Lion Nathan hired the Director’s Lounge for a private function.

Mercedes drivers, including Shelley Craft, Robbie McEwen and 2016 Miss Supercars, Charlotte Cushing, dined at an invite-only lunch for 125 of the Coast dealership‘s clients on Level 2.

Over in The Dome, Lauren Bonelli and Robert Maclellan were winners before a race had been run. The trackside first-timers were being paid to enjoy their day’s play after their boss at THE Real Estate – Miami invited them along.

With State Parliament in session, the turf club was a mostly pollie-free affair.

Punting pals of notable absent Ray Stevens said the Member for Mermaid was “not at all happy” work had kept him away on one of his favourite days.

John Coutis didn’t forget his rubbers. Photo: David Clark

Mayor Tom Tate, Deputy Mayor Donna Gates, and motivational speaker and double amputee John Coutis dined out in air-conditioned comfort on club chairman Brett Cook’s table in The Boardroom.

Inspiration speaker and skateboarder Mr Coutis swapped his usual rigger’s gloves for special red “wet weather rubbers” after rain fell early in the day.

“My mother always said, never leave home without your rubbers,” he said with a cheeky grin.

Back down on the ground in the Members’ bar, veteran punters pointed out dos and don’t’s to once-a-year-racegoers.

“Never take tips. Tips will send you broke,” one old-timer said.

“Never give tips. You wouldn’t ask for a tip if you were a true racing person,” said another.

Racegoers have fun with the police at the Turf Club. Photo: David Clark

Story courtesy Suzanne Simonot  Gold Coast Bulletin


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