THE Laurels function centre at Greenwattle Racecourse was sold out for Ladies Day, which began Sale Turf Club’s spring racing season on Sunday.
Relishing the chance to get frocked up, competition for the fashions on the field, MC’d by the inimitable James Boulton, was fierce.
Organiser Leeanne Pearce, from Khayaam Hair Salon, said it was a superb day.
“This year we’ve added an outside area with marquees to have our drinks and nibbles, and we’ve increased the size of the room, there’s 205 women up from 180, and the new chief executive Brad Evans has brought a great new injection of innovation to the race,” she said.
“It’s a day of embracing women and coming together and enjoying each others’ company and catching up, but it’s also about increasing the local economy by everyone buying their headwear and dresses locally, helping inject money into the economy and supporting local.
“The women outdid themselves with the fashion categories, it was a really tough competition for the judges.”
Evans said the day was the beginning of a refreshed spring and summer racing lineup, which will focus on involving the community.
In a joint commitment between the club, Racing Victoria, Country Racing Victoria, and the state government, there will be family days, and a community clubs day, with major Sale races until at least April running on a Sunday.
“The focus is to promote community engagement by not only offering the excitement of racing but also all of the other hospitality and fun to be had by all in and around the racing event itself,” he said.
“It’s a great period of the year that takes in the best weather, daylight saving and the opportunity for family and friends to enjoy the outdoors.”
Each event will include childrens’ activities, food trucks, giveaways, live music, and shuttle buses to and from the racecourse.
On the track, locally trained horse Tranquil Miss won the feature event, race six, the benchmark 70 handicap.
Ridden by Noel Callow and trained at Sale by George Doderico, the seven-year-old won $30,000 for its fifth win from 23 starts.
Trained in Sale by Colin Butcher, Chilean Wonder ridden by Teodore Nugent, won race eight, coming off a last-start second at Moe.
The five-year-old, trained by the Butcher family syndicate, has four wins and nine placings from 44 starts.
Jamie Mott and Jye McNeil completed riding doubles, Mott aboard Elraazy in race five and Big Phil in race nine, and McNeil on Bleu Roche in race two and Hunboshi in race seven.
Trainer Darren Weir and jockey Craig Williams combined to win the first event, the three-year-old fillies maiden plate, with Amphitrite, coming off a last start second at Mornington.
Mr Exclusive, trained by Matthew Brown at Cranbourne and ridden by Brian Higgins, won race three, the maiden plate, and first-starter Tarwin, trained at Cranbourne by Michael Kent and ridden by Beau Mertens, won race four.
The next event will be September 20, the last before the Sale Cup on October 28.