A great day for the locals
IT'S not about the celebs, love, said the man at the fence.
"It's a day for the locals."
And he was right.
Yesterday's Carlton Draught Gold Cup Day was all about the locals, from the parents of winning jockey Geoff Snowden, who travelled from their home at Valla Beach Resort to see their son boot Derivative Receipt home in the Cup, to locals like Desnee McCosker, who was enjoying a rare opportunity to dress up and spend time with her son and daughter.
Lyn and Terry Snowden both succumbed to tears when Geoff Snowden said the Carlton Gold Cup was "the Melbourne Cup and the Golden Slipper all rolled in one for me" as he accepted the trophy for his best win yet.
Ms McCosker's children both returned to Coffs Harbour for the Cup carnival and the family was planning to gather at a penthouse apartment overlooking the Jetty to party on.
Coffs Harbour Racing Club chairman Alan Johnson was delighted with the weather and said he wanted to pay tribute to new club CEO Russ Atkinson and the staff team who put in the hard work and didn't get to see the races.
He estimated the crowd was at least the equal of last year's 11,000, with an expanded layout giving racegoers more room to move.
Turf writer Chris Scholtz, who has been covering the Coffs Harbour Cup since the 1970s, when he worked with legendary racing editor Bert Lillye and strayed at the Plantation Hotel with the late Coffs Harbour racing fanatic Ted Russell, said the track was in great shape and attracting trainers, while the carnival was 'back to its glory days'.
Young racebook sellers Kathryn Frewen and Kru Gregory were fascinated by the outlandish outfits they nominated 'the guy who looked like Willy Wonka and someone dressed as the devil' as their picks for creativity.
Security guard Louise Vlatko said 'a handful' of under-18s, mostly girls dressed to the nines, had tried to bluff their way through the age checkpoint and had been turned away, but few had been surprised by the checks, which were introduced for the first time this year.
She said some later returned with their parents.
The 'celebs' were low key, with top footballers Gorden Tallis and Laurie Daley mingling with the crowd and handing out tickets and country music singer Troy Cassar-Daley posing with his fans before singing the national anthem.
New restrictions on sales of full-strength beer after 3pm and new non-drinking zones in the car park and Howard Street were introduced this year to keep racegoers on the right side of sobriety.
By 5pm Chief Inspector Tony Ferguson said a few people had been ejected for anti-social behaviour, but the changes introduced by the racing club had been good, the big crowd had been generally well-behaved and security staff had been 'terrific'.
Police involvement with the day is usually concentrated at the tail end and Chief Inspector Ferguson qualified his praise by saying 'so far, so good'.