A record crowd of 1700 racegoers turned out despite the September heatwave for a chance to be photographed with the $200,000 18-carat gold ‘People’s Cup’ as part of its milestone 15th annual tour of Australia and New Zealand.
After a visit to the Pioneers Home for a race day-themed morning tea and a photo opportunity at the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, the Emirates Melbourne Cup made a grand entry onto the racecourse, being carried down the straight and into the mounting yard on horseback by past students of the Longreach Pastoral College.
Victoria Racing Club chairman, Amanda Elliott, said they were excited to have brought the Australian cultural icon to western Queenslanders.
A couple of days earlier, one of Australia’s greatest race callers, Greg Miles, talked about what it was like to call the Melbourne Cup when he attended the Winton Outback Festival sunset charity dinner with the cup.
One horse-racing enthusiast in Barcaldine had told him holding the cup was the greatest day of his life.
“For me, it was a day of bloody hard work,” Greg laughed, having called 36 Melbourne Cups. “On the other side of that, it’s part of our DNA and it’s been great to be an ambassador and get to see that.”
The cup visit was a feature of a six race program with over $60,000 in prize money, plus a hotly contested Fashions on the Field offering over $10,000 in prizes and prizemoney.
Longreach-owned Dutch Courage, trained by Mark Oates and ridden by Pietro Romeo, was the winner of the Longreach Cup.
Big names in the Australian entertainment scene with roots in western Queensland, King Social and Mick Lindsay took to the stage once the racing was over.
Longreach local and lead singer of King Social, Angus Milne, enjoyed returning to Longreach to play for his home town.
"Our last couple of shows in Melbourne and Brissie have been packed shows, but the country crowd gave them a run for their money.
“It's been absolutely amazing to receive feedback on the new album and live show; and being in the ARIA charts this week is awesome.
“We loved celebrating with my hometown crowd.”
Accommodation was fully booked in Longreach for the weekend and so the Longreach Jockey Club created a camping area at the racecourse.
The day was supported by the Longreach Regional Council’s Community Drought Support Program, enabling a reduced gate entry.
Some 1700 attended the meeting,more than the 1500 that took part in the 125th anniversary celebrations in 2015.