THE Melbourne Cup Carnival saved the best until last, turning on a perfect spring experience for Emirates Stakes Day.
Parents, children and young racegoers were among the 68,873 people enjoying the festival-like atmosphere at Flemington yesterday.
Keeping with the theme, a fresh, young and influential crowd dominated the marquees, with AFL stars making the most of the more relaxed tone in the luxe Birdcage enclosure.
Richmond premiership player Jack Riewoldt, fresh from his Tasmanian wedding to Carly Ziegler last weekend, was joined in the Kennedy marquee by teammate Shaun Grigg and former Tigers Chris Newman and Jake King.
While Stakes Day, also known as Family Day, used to be considered the bridesmaid of the Melbourne Cup carnival, it is fast gaining a reputation as the party day of the carnival.
TV personality Lauren Phillips said it was her favourite race day.
“After a very long week, Stakes is a great day to relax and let your hair down,” she said.
Looking similarly relaxed was Natalie Bassingthwaighte in a strap- less black Misha Collection dress. “I feel like everyone’s really in the mood to party on Stakes Day,” she said.
Bassingthwaighte reunited with her band, the Rogue Traders, for a performance in the Sensis marquee.
Family Day also saw the next generation of Melbourne’s celebrity set venture out, with Shane Warne’s daughter Brooke, Larry Emdur’s son Jye and Brendan Fevola’s daughter Mia experiencing the Myer marquee.
Fashions on the Field celebrated junior racegoers, with hundreds of children and teenagers competing in various categories.
More than 310,000 people attended the four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival, down from 318,854 last year.
Victoria Racing Club chairman Amanda Elliott put the drop down to construction work at the track.
“We budgeted on (being) between 5 and 10 per cent down because of the building,” she said.
“We have actually done better than that, which is absolutely magnificent, but it is also about the experience, everyone has had a good time.”
The members’ grandstand was on schedule to be finished by August.
Georgia Love and Lee Elliott and (inset right) Chris Newman, Jack Riewoldt and Shaun Grigg. Pictures: TIMCARRAFA