Celebrity chef Colin Fassnidge was having none of the whingeing about the biblical deluge at Flemington on Melbourne Cup day 2018.
“I’m Irish. How can I complain about weather?” the My Kitchen Rules judge told The New Daily while giving MasterChef’s Matt Preston something akin to a squishy bear hug at the Lexus marquee in the exclusive Birdcage just after 11am on Tuesday.
“Australians shouldn’t complain either, not right now with drought and the whole thing. This is fine. Although my nice new tie is a bit wet and wrinkled,” Fassnidge said.
Making his Cup debut, the Sydneysider had no plans to bet: “I’d rather spend my money on beer.”
Across the room, Sunrise’s Samantha Armytage – in a Camilla and Marc dress with Polka headpiece and ASOS earrings (“I love a bit of cheap bling”) – chatted to her show’s weatherman Sam McMillan as trays of strawberry bircher muesli and mini smoked salmon bagels were passed.
While the roof of the three-storey marquee leaked metres away from him, McMillan joked “everyone’s blaming me” for the rain: “People have left a lot of angry messages.”
An experienced Melbourne Cup hand, Armytage – looking for a seat after her 3am start – called the event “a legendary Australian day. It’s so special to see everyone making such an effort”.
The day started marginally later for Lindy Rama-Ellis. She had a 4.30am call for hair, makeup and styling and by 9.30am, wearing an Alexander Wang mini and Christian Louboutin silver heels, was perched on a $60,000 mattress in a faux bedroom at the Pace Penthouse.
Despite it being a breakfast-in-bed photo op, Rama-Elllis ignored the tray of pastries, berries and strawberries laid out for her but told The New Daily she still has an appetite for the Cup.
“It’s one of my favourite days. I have really fond memories and always love the fun and fashion,” said the businesswoman, who had her fourth baby daughter Goldie – her first with new husband Adam Ellis – 11 months ago.
During her messy split with former Olympic swimmer Michael Klim, Rama-Ellis took “a few years off” coming to the track, but was planning on a full day to make up for it.
“A couple of drinks? Why not? I’m going to need something to keep me going after the early start.”
By 11.50, when Megan Gale hoisted the actual Melbourne Cup back at Lexus with Kate Waterhouse, the rain was so heavy fashionistas were getting around in plastic ponchos and The End Is Nigh expressions.
Not Gale, who beamed in a custom Paolo Sebastian dress embroidered with song lyrics and stars. She was taking a rare day away from son River, 4, and daughter Rosie, 13 months, but they were still on her mind.
“It’s hard to imagine what life is going to be like before you have children, but I just love being a mum,” she told The New Daily.
“I haven’t had that feeling yet that I’m finished [having children] and I hope it doesn’t happen just yet.”
Dynasty star Nathalie Kelley drenched herself with champagne opening an oversized bottle at Mumm, where The Bachelor’s Nick Cummins was too casual in his signature hat and chinos. He was more serious about fobbing off media requests, hanging out near the bar with mates.
Just after noon, 2015 Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Michelle Payne was glammed up at Tabcorp with actor Rachel Griffiths, director of Ride Like A Girl, the upcoming movie about Payne’s history-making victory.
Griffiths chatted like old buddies for 20 minutes to federal opposition leader Bill Shorten and his wife Chloe, but Payne had business on her mind.
Asked if she’d rather be in the Birdcage or out on the track, she laughed. “I will be out there in race five,” she told The New Daily. “As soon as I’ve finished here I’ll be changing out of this dress and getting ready to ride.”
VRC members who paid $790 a head for a day in VRC marquee 1 Oliver Lane were agog when a media crush was herded in to await the arrival of international guests Dionne Warwick (who did a two-song set) and Sam Smith.
Warwick – in glittery leggings, fur ankle boots and a denim patchwork jacket – looked stunned by her reception, and at least one guest was underwhelmed by the famous singer: “Who is it? I look better than her. Take my photo instead.”
Lara Worthington was running late for her arrival at the Bumble marquee, the only place on course where women outnumbered men and the ambience – gold chaise lounges, overblown roses, a giant floral throne – was edgily ladylike.
The mother of two, a Flemington regular before marrying Hollywood star Sam Worthington, broke the colourful Cup dress code by wearing a white Chloe dress, black beret and fabulous weather-appropriate boots.
She smiled widely, but was short on words when asked her impression of the day: “It’s weird”.