PHOTOS: Gympie saddles up for the Melbourne Cup
THE threat of a looming afternoon thunderstorm did little to dissuade Gympie locals from having a punt at the races yesterday.
Rolling black clouds formed an imposing backdrop to the Gympie Showgrounds, but all eyes were set on Flemington as Rekindling took out the 2017 Melbourne Cup.
With over 200 enjoying a meal in the Little Haven cup luncheon and hundreds more outside, the cheers echoed around the racetrack.
"We had around 100 more people here than we did last year,” said Gympie Turf Club secretary Kristi Holliss.
"Overall I think we had about 800 through the gate, which is a fantastic result for us.”
As for the amounts Gympie race fans were keen to put up, the exact figure remained a mystery.
"What I can tell you is that the bookies love when we have the chariot races on,” Ms Holliss added.
"They're just a lot of fun and people really love to get involved when we put them on.”
There was, of course, plenty to see and do off the track, with bold colours and floral designs a popular choice amongst patrons.
Some particularly extravagant headpieces had to be held down as the winds picked up and the rain finally came down, washing out the last local race for the day.
"It's Queensland and it's this time of year, plus we need all the rain we can get,” Ms Holliss said.
Already looking to next year's race, Hampton and Harlow's VIP "Birdcage” tent will undoubtedly be making a return appearance.
"I had so many people tell me they wanted to get tickets for the next one,” Ms Holliss said.
"I think to say we were pleased would do a disservice to the warm reception we got to the Birdcage.”
Overall, the 2017 cup was undoubtedly a success for the Gympie Turf Club, with a well-behaved and positive crowd the icing on a fantastic day at the races.
"We just love putting on these races for the community and seeing people coming out and having a great time,” Ms Holliss said.
"So yes, definitely a good day for us.”