AUSTRALIA'S stars of the turf Hugh Bowman, Jamie Kah, Gai Waterhouse, Michelle Payne, Ciaron Maher, Ben and JD Hayes gathered in Woolsthorpe on the eve of the May Racing Carnival to help raise more than $100,000 for three charities.
Victoria's leading trainer Ciaron Maher and the superstar jockeys entertained an audience of more than 250 people who parted with $120 each for the inaugural function at the Union Station Hotel to rub shoulders with the high profile racing celebrities.
Ten items were auctioned and raised more than $100,000 for the National Jockeys Trust, Standing Tall Warrnambool and The Lookout residential drug rehabilitation centre in Warrnambool.
The items included a signed saddle from Kah and a 5 per cent share in a yearling colt by Frosted - to be trained by Maher.
A signed framed print by Bowman of the mighty mare Winx attracted plenty of bids from the audience.
Colin and Janice McKenna, who organised the event, were over the moon with the response and generosity from the guests.
"The event was an outstanding success," Mr McKenna said.
"It was incredible to have all the superstar racing identities at the pub giving up their time up for charity.
"Janice and I are grateful they attended the day plus all the guests, they all made it a great success.
"The generosity of racing people never ceases to amaze me and we saw that here today.
"The money raised will go to worthwhile charities.
"I don't think there's many families that have not been touched by drugs or mental health issues.
"The money raised will be going to help those important issues around Warrnambool plus the National Jockeys Trust.
"We'll be making this an annual event on the Monday of race week."
Mr McKenna, a high profile racehorse owner and founder of Midfield Meat, has a share in the Warrnambool Cup favourite Grandslam with his friend Malcolm Fallon.
He said the pair would be making a donation to the three charities, if their Maher-Eustace trained galloper could win the $300,000 race on day three of the carnival.
"Malcolm and I will make a donation to the fund if Grandslam wins the Warrnambool Cup," Mr McKenna said.
"We've got our fingers crossed Grandslam can win.
"It'll be a big night at the Union Station Hotel if he wins on Thursday."
Champion jockey Hugh Bowman, who kept the audience's attention speaking about champion mare Winx, said he was delighted to have been involved in such an amazing event at Woolsthorpe.
"It was an incredible afternoon," Bowman said.
"My wife Christine and our two children were just delighted to be at the function.
"I've got to take my hat off to Colin and Janice - they are just wonderful people who help so many people - and to organise a charity fundraiser like this is totally amazing."
Grandslam is the $1.80 favourite to win the 2350-metre race in early betting markets.
The Warrnambool Cup will be run at 3.55pm on Thursday.