Great day for record races at Ballina
By MARY MANN
SCANNING the line of TAB terminal operators, Ballina Cup punters Jenny Ogle and Louise Cox ran straight for the bright yellow L-plate.
It was stuck to one of the computers, and behind it sat learner operator Judith Williams, who sported a huge smile.
"We want the learner," the Byron Bay women said together.
"She has a friendly face."
Jenny and Louise were just two of hundreds of people who dug into their pockets to place a bet at the Ballina Cup race day yesterday.
It was only Judith's third time as a TAB terminal operator but she reckoned she would have the hang of it by the end of the day.
The TAB team came from Grafton especially for the annual event.
"I put the L-plate there just to make people aware that I'm still learning," she said.
"A lot of people come up to place a bet and say they don't really know what they're doing, and I say, 'Neither do I!' and we have a joke about it.
"It's a learning experience, and a fun day out with the other TAB girls, who are all very helpful."
Louise backed grey horses in a couple of races a tactic she has used for most of her life.
"I won on a grey in the Melbourne Cup," she said.
"It doesn't really mean anything, I've always liked greys, they've been pretty lucky for me."
Ballina Jockey Club secretary manager Stephen Taylor said it was the best Ballina Cup ever.
He expected a record crowd of about 6000 people to spill through the gates.
"The fact it was postponed from September (because of the horse flu outbreak) and is such a success shows how much the community has got behind it," Mr Taylor said.
"The level of fashion here is unbelievable I think I've only seen three people in shorts and thongs, everyone else has made a huge effort to get dressed up and show themselves off.
"There's a nice breeze coming through, not a cloud in the sky. It's fantastic."
The event received a record 239 nominations of horses all of which had received an Equine Influenza inoculation.
Strict biosecurity measures were in place, with barricades set up to keep a buffer zone between horses and the public.
Meanwhile, the streets of Ballina came to a standstill from midday, with most businesses closing up for the half-day public holiday.