All the glitz and glamour that is ‘Fashions on the Field’
Published 19 October 2023
The Rockhampton Jockey Club’s Caulfield Cup Day races has for over 30 years enjoyed the reputation of being the highlight of Spring racing in the city. That will again be the case on Saturday when multitudes of racegoers with the majority donning the latest Spring and Summer fashions descend on Callaghan Park racecourse for a day of racing, fun and celebrations. Coinciding of course with the $5M Caulfield Cup (2400m) in Melbourne, in reality the Callaghan Park meeting virtually self-promotes. In the eyes of many, it is “the day “to strut their stuff and be seen at Callaghan Park. Fashions on the Field, for many of the ladies and gents attending on Saturday is more of a lure than the horses on the turf racing. Gold sponsors, the selfless couple of David and Kerry Peel of Rockhampton’s Phill Peel Jewelers have ensured magnificent prizes for a range of fashion categories on Saturday afternoon. These are displayed on this site. Despite an abundance of race meetings presently which draw on horses trained from Callaghan Park; it is refreshing that numbers are up on the corresponding Caulfield Cup Day races last year. Forty horses raced at the October 15, 2022, Caulfield Cup meeting whilst at time of writing 49 are due to start on Saturday.
The fashion extravaganza which will be out and about on the Callaghan Park lawns and podiums has always been part and parcel of the occasion. By chance I came across a cutting from the The Morning Bulletin on October 19, 1998, which depicted some fashionable ladies and one gent Rodney Lohse who was a journalist colleague of mine at the time with TMB. I am sure it will arouse memories for many. Interestingly on that Saturday afternoon at Callaghan Park on Caulfield Cup Day 25 years ago, the prize money for each of the local races was $5000. On Saturday, each of the six local races is worth $18K a piece while one has an extra $18K QTIS bonus attached. It was reported that a crowd of 1500 attended Callaghan Park that day a quarter of a century ago.
For the record, the 1998 Caulfield Cup was won by the English invader Taufan’s Melody (GB) thereby becoming the first internationally trained winner of the race since its inception when won by Newminister in 1879. The 1998 winner was trained by English woman Lady Herries (wife of great cricketer Colin Cowdrey) who thereby became the first female to train a Caulfield Cup winner. Only two other women – Sheila Laxton (2001- Etheral) and Gai Waterhouse (2010 – Descarado) have equaled the feat. Irish Jockey Ray Cochrane may have won the 1998 Cup on Taufan’s Melody (GB), but it came with a price. He was suspended for a month and copped an additional $20,000 fine for careless riding in that Cup. Since 1998, five other internationally trained horses have gone on to win a Caulfield Cup. While Cochrane wasn’t popular with some Australian rival jockeys (including Chris Munce) or stewards on that Saturday in 1998, he certainly was two years later. At his own peril, Cochrane saved the life of acclaimed jockey Frankie Dettori when he dragged him from a burning plane taking off from an English racecourse. He was indeed a hero and awarded a Queens Commendation Medal for Bravery.
Last year’s Caulfield Cup winner, Chris Waller trained Durston became the first emergency to ever win the great race. He was number 19 (e) and ridden by Michael Dee. Incidentally, Michael Dee has an early booking for King Colorado (members attached to that horse’s massive ownership syndicate include Rocky residents) in the W. S. Cox Plate should it make the field in the prestige race at Moonee Valley on Saturday week. For omen punters, the only emergency in the acceptances for the 2023 Caulfield Cup on Saturday is United Nations with the number (19e). Michael Dee will ride number 11 – Right You Are. Which reminds me congratulations to former RJC judge and administrator Rockhampton’s Denis McArthur who modestly disclosed he has a “micro share “in the ownership of recent GR 1 Sydney The Metropolitan (2400m) winner Just Fine. Denis was along with Ruth Martin the “backstay” of the RJC operations at Callaghan Park for decades. Also, the internationally trained Cup runners’ number four on Saturday – 3- Breakup (JPN); 6- West Wind Blows (IRE): 14 – Okita Soushi (IRE) and 18 Valiant King (GB). Hope that is of assistance in backing the winner.
At the Rockhampton Jockey Club’s Caulfield Cup Day races at Callaghan Park on Saturday, the first race commences at 1.57pm but gates will open hours earlier. It promises to be a day to remember. Enjoy – Happy Horses – Tony McMahon.