STUNNING sunshine provided an excuse for unseasonable race wear at a momentous Hamilton Cup yesterday.
Hundreds showed throughout the two-day meeting which marked the final cup to be decided in autumn.
Hamilton Racing Club manager John Donnelly said it was “the end of an era”.
“Today is the last of the Hamilton Cups in April,” he told The Standard.
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“We’re moving it to October as of next year.
“The committee thought it would be better being showcased in the Spring Carnival when everyone is in the mood for racing.
“And the weather is generally better in October.”
But Mr Donnelly said he was eating his words as perfect out-of-season conditions bathed the south-west and the mercury crept to the high 20s.
“The weather governs us,” he said.
“There’s no reason why the locals wouldn’t show up today.
“Saturday is always a bit quieter — cup day’s our main day. We’ve got about 500 booked in already for today. We’re expecting far better crowds than last year. I think it’ll be the best crowd ever.”
A highlight was the appearance of nationally-renowned retired sprinter Apache Cat, which won 19 times during his 43-start career, including back-to-back Doomben 10,000 and Australia Stakes victories.
Mr Donnelly said the legendary racehorse, recognisable from his characteristic white blaze and socks, had also helped to boost crowd numbers.
Racegoers had travelled from as far as Melbourne and Sydney, Mr Donnelly said.
“We’re delighted to attract such a cross-section of people,” he said.
The annual Fashions on the Field attracted a bevy of beautifully dressed women, men and children vying for the $1500 first prize.