On Saturday July 29th, Out at the Races returned to Doomben Racecourse for a second year. This colourful and fabulous race day, the only one of its kind in Australia, was the initiative of Dave Wimpey, Chief Executive Officer of the Brisbane Racing Club (BRC). Dave’s vision was for the Club to show support for the LGBTI community and to celebrate our human diversity.

I attended the inaugural meeting last year and remembered that it was the most fun race day I’ve ever attended – anywhere! And to top it off, I was chosen Best Dressed Lady in Fashions on the Field. So when I was asked to judge the Fashions this year, I didn’t hesitate. Once again, Out at the Races was Brisbane’s biggest and best party with something for everyone; from glamorous marquees serving French Champagne, to drag Queens strutting their stuff on the main stage, while also mingling with the guests.

Everyone wore their most fabulous and outrageous race wear in every colour of the rainbow and as an added incentive, those who dressed in drag or their favourite gay icon received free entry into the racecourse. There was certainly a festive atmosphere in the air, heightened by Brisbane’s beautiful Winter weather. My fellow Fashions on the Field judges were Alfie Arcuri, winner of the Television Talent Show The Voice 2016, Dene Harris, BRC Fashion Committee Member and also the entertaining Vollie La Vont. I was delighted to be in such charming and amusing company.

Master of Ceremonies (MC) Damien Anthony Rossi, Brisbane’s Mr Hollywoodin Ozwas his sartorially splendid best and had us all in stitches with his witty repartee on stage. Categories for Fashions on the Field included Best Dressed Lady, Best Dressed Gentleman and Queen of the Track, the latter category to be awarded to the most glamorous drag King or Queen or the Fashionista who dressed in all things wild and wonderful.

Well, we certainly had a wonderful selection of entrants to choose from, but aspiring Milliner from the Gold Coast, Anna Lukyanova, caught our eye in a colourful Pucci print silk dress trimmed with canary yellow ostrich feathers, which earned her the title of Best Dressed Lady. Her stunning halo headpiece was self-made. Runner-up Glenda Newick, also from the Gold Coast, wore a turquoise blue dress and jacket topped with a spectacular headpiece made completely from peacock feathers.

Other beautifully dressed ladies in the final line up included Maree Horseman, looking lovely in a genuine vintage Japanese kimono, Alla Dimech, in a pretty and feminine cream and pale blue Self Portrait dress and self-made beaded crown, and Danielle Shaw, striking in a floral royal blue and white ensemble and also wearing a self-made crown.

In the Best Dressed Gentleman category, the winner was a standout in a black jacket worn with tight-fitting animal print pants befitting the carnival atmosphere of the day. The runner-up was elegant in a classic race wear suit worn with a pink shirt. The Queen of the Track category proved most popular with the audience barracking loudly for their favourite Queen. However, the statuesque Title winner, Aurora, certainly stood out in a long silver lame gown, worn with a striking hat with a huge brim.

All winners received lavish gift hampers, bottles of Moet champagne and vouchers valued up to $1,000. Another historic first for a racetrack was the surprise engagement between two of the men on the Fashions on the Field stage. One of the partners asked MC Damien if hewould officiate the surprise proposal which was joyfully accepted. I imagine it would be the first time a same sex couple have ever become engaged on stage at a race track in Queensland.

The happy couple even asked Damien and Alfie if they would be best men at their wedding. After the excitement of Fashions on the Field we were entertained by the drag Kings and Queens as they performed on a float stage down the racecourse track. I also made sure I had a photograph taken with two of the burlesque dancers. Racing itself however, was not forgotten on the day as the BRC held a presentation to honour Jockeys Tiffani Brooker and Jeff Lloyd for their Premiership winning feats.

Both Jockeys vowed to continue rewarding owners and trainers next season after their winning season in metropolitan races. Jeff’s Premiership win is his second and it was celebrated with his cheer squad, wife Nicola, daughter Tayah and sons Zac and Jaden who were all in attendance at the track. After the last race, the crowd was entertained by local DJs ENN, Kylie Rose and headliner DJ Jim Jam, who was selected as one of the few Australian DJs at the Sydney Mardi Gras. Was Out at the Races as fabulous as last year? Yes, it certainly was and I’m looking forward to next year’s event already.

Written by Dale Olsson

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