A crowd of 85,943 braved morning thunderstorms to see Tarzino win the 2015 AAMI Victoria Derby at famous Flemington on Saturday.
Fine weather arrived in time to see the Mick Price-trained colt, ridden by Craig Newitt, take out the $1.5 million race in convincing fashion, triumphing over Etymology and Kia Ora Koutou.
Earlier, racing’s first lady Gai Waterhouse claimed the final place in Tuesday’s Emirates Melbourne Cup when Excess Knowledge won the Lexus Stakes by a short half head, and then survived a protest by connections of second place getter Zanteca.
Japonisme won Chris Waller his third consecutive Coolmore Stud Stakes and his eighth Group 1 of the season, while French raider Gailo Chop was stronger than the locals in the Longines Mackinnon Stakes, and Politeness was first home in the Myer Classic.
There was also plenty of action off the track with many famous faces joining the tens of thousands across Flemington’s grandstands, marquees, lawns and car parks.
The popular Birdcage Enclosure was home to a host of celebrities including Millie Mackintosh at Emirates, Hilary Swank in the Swisse marquee and Jennifer Hawkins in the Myer marquee, while the Lavazza marquee played host to footballers Marc Murphy and Chris Judd.
Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Chief Executive Simon Love said AAMI Victoria Derby Day lived up to its reputation as one of Australia’s greatest days of racing.
“The weather forecast and morning thunder undoubtedly deterred some from coming to Flemington today, but they missed out on an exceptional day of racing,” Mr Love said.
“Today set an incredible scene for the rest of the Melbourne Cup Carnival and we look forward to Tuesday with great anticipation for the race that stops a nation.”
The fashion stakes rivalled the on-course action with Myer Fashions on the Field for both women and men.
Courtney Moore from Geelong took the Women’s Racewear AAMI Victoria Derby Day crown in a beautiful full skirted dress by Miss Lynda and boater by Moore Millinery Designs, and will compete with the eventual winners from Emirates Melbourne Cup Day and Crown Oaks Day for the Victorian title and entry into the National Final.
Pepe Sithiphon Siyavong from Melbourne won the Men’s Racewear competition in a double breasted houndstooth suit and charcoal felt fedora with blue feathers.
The VRC is expecting around 100,000 people for the running of the 155th Emirates Melbourne Cup on Tuesday. Melbourne Cup Carnival tickets are still available for purchase from Flinders Street, Southern Cross and North Melbourne train stations or racegoers can jump the queues and buy online from Ticketek on their mobiles, even on raceday. Admission is free for children under 16 accompanied by an adult.
On Monday, tens of thousands will fill Swanston Street and Federation Square for the Emirates Melbourne CupParade from 12 noon.