Carnival closes with family fashion and questions on crowds and controversy

She said her daughter Elena, 8, had a dress from now 14-month-old Nate’s christening, and she built the other looks from there for the rest of the family, including husband Michael and daughter Leila, 7.

Capenteri Family (Michael, Rhianna and Leila, Elena and Nate) 1st place, Tamou Family (Brittney, Bronx and Boston) 2nd place and Donovan Family (Joanne and Anastasia) 3rd place in the Family Runway at The Park during 2019 Stakes Day at Flemington Racecourse on November 09, 2019 in Melbourne, AustraliaCredit:Getty Images

The family last entered the competition about four years ago, when they came runners up. But they nearly didn’t make it to the stage on Saturday.

“It’s pretty hard; you should have seen us this morning, we were the last ones here,” Rhianna said. “The girls are in to [fashion], Leila especially, Elena is more of a tomboy.”

The family won prizes including a $5000 travel voucher and a shopping spree at Myer.

After the rain, sunshine, animal-rights protests and and more than the odd fashion controversy, one question remained as the 2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival concluded on Saturday: is racing forever changed?

It's up with the umbrellas and down with the rain on Stakes Day.

It’s up with the umbrellas and down with the rain on Stakes Day.Credit:Getty Images

Numbers for the carnival’s four major meets were generally down slightly on previous years, with a soggy Derby Day suffering the biggest drop, with 80,214 attending compared to 91,194 last year.

But whether the dip was due to the weather or a public backlash after the airing of cruelty allegations involving retired racehorses on ABC’s 7.30 program last month – or some other reason – no one knows.

But the fact Cup Day crowds fell by only only 2000 compared to last year suggests that for most Melburnians, the show goes on, albeit in a climate with an imperative for change.


The start of the carnival was marked by the Victoria Racing Club launching a new welfare fund, which will funnel 10 per cent of gate takings and 5 per cent of membership dues into the rehoming and care of retired racehorses.

In the Birdcage, there was a general feeling that the week was more subdued: but cooler weather, a dearth of big-name international celebrities and a desire by some sponsors to offer something more sophisticated all played a part in those observations.

Still, those guests who came did so with gusto. Lady Kitty Spencer delighted guests at Lexus, while Australian-born supermodel Nicole Trunfio exuded drama with three outfit changes – four if you count a midday headwear change – all while six months’ pregnant.


Fashion wise, conversations centred around the adherence – or lack thereof – of the VRC’s dress standards, with midriffs and hip-bones on display among the A-listers.

And milliners were heard to comment that times are getting tougher given the trend away from traditional headwear in favour of dainty headbands and hair clips.

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