THE WHEEL TURNS FOR RACE DAY AMBASSADOR
THE GIRL FROM THE BUSH WHO WAS KNOWN ONLY AS THE GIRLFRIEND OF RADIO’S ANDY LEE HAS NOW FOUND FAME IN HER OWN RIGHT AS A LEADING MODEL AND THE FACE OF THE CUP’S FASHIONS ON THE FIELD
Not that long ago Rebecca Harding was the little-known lady on funny man Andy Lee’s arm. Fast forward two years and she is carving a name for herself on the catwalk and a career in communications. And it’s on race days, like the Melbourne Cup, where it’s in fact Lee who is Harding’s “arm candy”. The 26-year-old model is also the fresh face of Myer’s Fashions on the Field Ambassador for the 2017 Spring Racing Carnival. “I think people are probably sick of this story, but we (Harding and Lee) met while I was working as a waitress during my final month of study,” Harding says. She professes to being “terrible but very smiley” on the job. Harding apparently didn’t want to serve the former Cleo Bachelor of the Year, but it didn’t stop a smitten Lee, 36, from asking her out for pizza and wine at their local pub. But before Harding was a regular in The Birdcage (A-list corporate marquees), she was barefoot in the red dirt of the Kimberleys. “I was so lucky to spend my childhood running around exploring the gorges in the Kimberleys and swimming in the muddy waters of the mighty Murray,” she recalls. Born in Melbourne, Harding lived in Middle Park with her parents Gaby and Lee and sister Poppy until she was six. “My family then moved to a tiny mining town in rural Western Australia called Kambalda, about a 30-minute drive from Kalgoorlie and we lived there for about four years. “We then moved to Mildura on the Murray River and lived there until I was 14 when I moved back to Melbourne for boarding school at Melbourne Girls Grammar in South Yarra. Despite both Poppy and I going to boarding school at the age of 14, we’re a super close family.” After high school, Harding completed an undergraduate degree in Media and Communications with a major of Public Relations, followed by a Masters of Communications at RMIT University. “I’ve been modelling since I was 18 and was scouted on Chapel St. It was a great part-time job while I was completing my undergraduate degree,” Harding says. Life in the spotlight can be challenging at times but the model says having an understanding of the media landscape is helpful. Her sister Poppy hit back at trolls on social media last year, defending Harding as just a “normal gal”. She spent school holidays at pony club and first got a taste of being trackside during her teens, watching Fashions on the Field. “I’ve been attending the Melbourne Cup Carnival for over 10 years now, so I’m absolutely over the moon to have an official role this year,” Harding says. “I spent my teenage years with friends and family in the Nursery (member’s carpark enclosure) and on The Rails (adjacent to the track), and now love spying some of the exciting action in The Birdcage.” Harding’s not giving much away about her own Cup day outfit other than it will have lots of colour. “I’m quite an upbeat person, so I love to project that in my race wear.” What about some of the season’s biggest trends? “We’ve already seen a lot of red in the spring summer collections, which I love but just colour in general,” Harding says. “I also look forward to seeing people have some fun with millinery, boaters, wide-brim hats.” But her biggest tip for winning the style stakes at your local race meet’s fashion on the field competition? “To showcase your personality and smile. A smile goes a long way.” There’s hardly a photo on Harding’s Instagram page where she’s not smiling. And it’s probably hard not to grin when you’re dating one half of the radio comedic act that is Hamish and Andy. Harding posted “Proud third-wheeler” in a photo with Lee at the recent Australian Commercial Radio Awards, where Hamish Blake and Lee won two awards for best station-produced comedy segment and best station promotion. “It’s great, we laugh a lot and have loads of fun,” Harding says of her relationship. The couple, who live together in Melbourne, will no doubt have more down time together at the end of the year when Lee and Blake step down from radio. “My ideal day would be a nice sleep-in, a Pilates class and to cook a beautiful lunch for family and friends,” Harding says.
“I WAS SO LUCKY TO SPEND MY CHILDHOOD RUNNING AROUND EXPLORING THE GORGES IN THE KIMBERLEYS.”