Colourful racing identities add to the magic

January 09 [Sat], 2016, 11:50

(Photo:formal dresses)

Capping a week of celebrations and yearling sales forecast to eclipse the pre-GFC record, Gerry Harvey and Katie Page’s 30th ­annual event peaks today.

At a time when women in racing have never been more prominent ― thanks to jockey Michelle Payne’s Melbourne Cup win in November and Page’s commitment to involving more women in the sport and ownership ― jockey and carnival ambassador Tegan Harrison has been preparing to ride in five of today’s nine races.

Harrison tells The Weekend Australian: “I’m just looking forward to the day in general, from start to finish. The atmosphere is incredible. You get pretty excited on these bigger days, it tends to pump you up that little bit more for your races. And of course the prize money is outstanding.”

While the track might be her natural habitat, Harrison isn’t ­immune to enjoying the sport’s more stylish side. “One of the things we do miss out on as female jockeys is enjoying the dressing up. It’s nice to be able to dress up and be on other side of the fence occasionally, but it’s definitely better being out there riding.”

While the racing action is going at full pelt ― including Payne riding in today’s main race, the 2YO Classic ― the nation’s favourite fashion obsession will be playing out off-track.

Ahead of the national final at the Melbourne Cup Carnival, Myer’s Fashions on the Field competition will choose its Queensland finalist today. And anyone who suggests Gold Coast fashion is all about bejewelled caftans and perma-tans might have to rethink.

With a massive prize pool ― about $42,000 in cash and prizes for this heat alone, working up to more than $400,000 for the ­national final on Oaks Day in ­November ― punters are signing up in increasingly stylish numbers.

Competition host Nikki Phillips, attending her first Magic Millions carnival in the role, has high expectations. “I think everyone’s got a bit more confidence here,” Phillips says. “I’m really excited to see people embrace colour a bit more.

“I feel like everywhere else we’re a little bit shy of it. So I’m looking forward to seeing colour-blocking and bold, bold colours.”

It’s also one of the few occasions women now have, says Phillips, “to really go bold and bust out those flamboyant dresses we wouldn’t wear to a barbecue”.

By the time yesterday’s final hammer fell on the sales, nearly $103m worth of horses had been sold in three days, and the Magic Millions were on track to surpass the record turnover of $120m set in 2007.

Irish giant Coolmore Stud, based in the Hunter Valley, bought yesterday’s top yearling: a colt sired by Pierro out of Skates for $1.5m, sold by Segenhoe Stud.

It was a big day for Coolmore, which sold for $1.4m a filly ― also sired by Pierro ― to James Harron Bloodstock, who had worked alongside Gai Waterhouse.

This year, the horses are being sold for an average of $199,922, up from $171,000 last year.

Under sunny Gold Coast skies, international buyers with deep pockets ― such as US wine magnate Barbara Banke ― inspected the glossy yearlings.

John Singleton and partner ­Venessa Merrin couldn’t wipe the grin off their faces after a colt from his Strawberry Hill Stud rem­ained the event’s top-selling horse, sold for $1.6m on Thursday.Read more at:prom dresses online