By Tony McMahon
In an era where crowds have become a rarity, Rockhampton’s Callaghan Park racecourse was a sight to behold last Saturday when a crowd of more than 3,000 people brought back memories of years gone by.
The occasion was the annual St Peter’s Caulfield Cup Race Day, which has been building in momentum since its inception just over 30 years ago.
Not surprisingly, the crowd was the biggest on record for St Peter’s Day and quite possibly the largest at Callaghan Park since the opening of the grass track circuit in 1984 when 4700 patrons attended.
Naturally, the accolades flowed on Saturday which is the natural reaction from the obvious enjoyment such a vibrant occasion breeds whereby fun becomes more contagious as the day rocks along.
On Saturday, the enthusiastic ensemble consisting of young parents, past pupils and their myriad of friends associated with St Peter’s Catholic School, Allenstown transformed the racecourse into a kaleidoscope of colour and vibrance.
Not that the Rockhampton Jockey Club racecourse venue - that commenced racing in 1898 and was named Callaghan Park in 1912 - hadn’t already undergone a makeover in the week leading up to Saturday.
There were marquees shading trendy eating and drinking settings; a parade of mobile eating venues along with a covered venue for a band for the after the races set to dance the night along.
The Rockhampton Jockey Club’s Ian Mill and his team had gone to great lengths to ensure extra shaded areas were in place to provide comfort for the anticipated mammoth crowd.
Not forgetting of course, the fashion extravaganza which drew classic styles for all persuasions in the numerous categories of the Rocks Bar and Restaurant Fashions on the Field.
St Peter’s Caulfield Cup Race Day has become iconic in Rockhampton, luring thousands of young people aside from the school clan which makes the occasion Rocky’s biggest race meeting.
Loud cheers erupted as the 44 horses raced down the Callaghan Park straight comprising the six-race card in action.
The majority would never have been so close to such a huge and vociferous crowd so any wonder the thoroughbreds put in extra yards trying their hearts out with winners in the main very popular with the social punting flock.
Afterall, five of the races were won by well-backed horses with winning prices ranging from $2.05 to $4.60 with the one exception Nuremburg proving a benefactor to the bookies at $15.00.
How appropriate it was when last race favourite, the aptly named Jared Wehlow trained Only Wanna Sing romped home at 4.46pm.
By that time, the well behaved celebratory and thirst quenched crowd had already burst into singalongs so the stage was well and truly been set for the Zac Cross Band to explode.
RJC CEO Ian Mill summed it up perfectly when he said – “It was just a magnificent day all round, the vibes and comments from everyone I spoke to were just so positive.”