BIG DAY: Bookkeeper Mark Simpkins of Casino at the 2013 Ballina Cup.
BIG DAY: Bookkeeper Mark Simpkins of Casino at the 2013 Ballina Cup. Patrick Gorbunovs

Race fever turns up heat

GLOOMY weather failed to hold back ardent racegoers at the Ballina Cup yesterday as they flocked to the track for the popular local half-day holiday.

Despite a dash of rain on the track about 1pm to "settle the dust", the threatening weather was not enough to deliver a disastrous blow to the event.

Ballina Jockey Club chief executive Craig Miller estimated a solid crowd of about 4000 arrived for the day.

And well before the punting got under way, local ladies were on the front foot, enjoying the rare chance to get frocked up.

"Stay classy, win lots of money and don't fall over," was the call from regular Ballina Cup attendees Kyreena Cooper, Jessica Dunn and Jessica Rose.

Local fashionista Christine Henderson from Real House- wives of the Northern Rivers sported a unique style she called "out-there punk glamour".

"I got the stockings off the internet and the dress at the Byron Bay market for $20," she said. "The hat is borrowed."

Racing-fashion celebrity Anna Mott, whose website has received 340 million hits, came from Melbourne to help judge Fashions on the Field.

Ms Mott declared Ballina had "more flair than Royal Ascot", which she attended recently.

She said with the rise of casual everyday dressing, racetracks remained one of the last opportunities for women to dress in truly elegant clothing.

"It's okay to feel good about yourself and get dressed up," Ms Mott said.

"It's not about winning, it's about having the courage to get up and put yourself out there."

For loved-up partners Roberto Argentaro and Natalie Tillyer, the Ballina Cup is a particularly special event.

They met at last year's cup (where they bet on a couple of winners) and have been together since.

"I think when our horses went over the line we knew we had a winner," Mr Argentaro said of last year's "triple" win.



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