Feathers, fascinators and finery were on display this morning – along with thousands of goose bumps as punters streamed through the gates at Flemington.
Nanjing Night Net

While the first Melbourne Cup race-goers arrived at 7.30am to nab their premium spot on the grass, thousands more were converging on Flinders Street Station to make the trip out to the track.

John Goddard, dressed in a pirate hat complete with two inflatable parrots, was among the first to arrive with about 10 workmates from Queensland and NSW.

"I believe we got the wrong theme, we should have come as Eskimos," Mr Goddard said.

Friend Colleen Barnes, huddled under a blanket, added, "Next year we’re going to Fiji."

On the betting front, bookie Paul White has predicted it will be a "massive day".

In the betting ring, he has English horse Mad Rush at $5 for a win and Septimus at $5.50.

Mr White said that for the first time in many years, punters would have to go back to $14 to find an Australian horse – Zipping has the shortest odds of the local contenders.

As champagne corks popped with abandon in the nursery car park, many a long-standing ritual was taking place on the asphalt in the main car park.

Five veteran race-goers – including North Balwyn’s Peg Redmond, who turns 86 today – have set up their card table for the 10th year running.

"We’ll have champagne and the ladies prepare special meals,” Kevin Collins, 79, said.

"It’s sort of a traditional thing. We’ve been doing it for so long, we look forward to it for most of the year.”

For the birthday girl, things have changed a fair bit since she attended her first horse race at the age of 28.

"It was nothing like this, there’s more pageantry here,” she said.

Trackside, Kiwi Matt Reid and eight of his mates were setting their own traditions, sporting yellow daisy-inspired suits on their third Cup-day pilgrimage to Flemington.

"The inspiration was one of us travelling in Thailand and we just had them made,” said Mr Reid.

Another member of the group said their distinctive style could be described as "stolen curtains”.

After trips to the Cup in 2004 and 2006, Mr Reid admitted slipping into suits each time was a challenge.

"There’s been a few diets happening in the last three months,” he said.

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