Your Legendary Carnival Stories
People from all walks of life come together to create a carnival like no other. Here are just some of their personal and poignant stories.
A real sense of buzz
Nothing beats having your horses competing in the big races in Sydney during Carnival time. They are the races everyone wants to win. It’s a great time of year and I can sense a real buzz amongst our staff as the horses they look after get closer to running on the big days.
It was a huge thrill for me to win my first Golden Rose but also a first for Gai Waterhouse ad Adrian Bott. It was extra satisfying to do it with In The Congo who I have had so much to do with.
Some of my greatest wins have been at Royal Randwick
I love riding at Royal Randwick especially during Carnival time. Some of my greatest wins have been on this track and it’s always special to win the big races here.
PUMP UP THE VOLUME
I live for music. Dancing as the sun went down with Hot Dub Time Machine at Schweppes All Aged Stakes Day was epic. The warm weather, the liquid sunset, the infectious beats from Sydney’s own and the rush from everyone in the crowd made it all feel like a movie. It’s a memory I’ll never forget.
THE HOME STRAIGHT
My sister and I are Sydney girls through and through. We’ve been going to the races since we were children. It’s our sisterly tradition at this point. But after she moved to Singapore for work a few years ago, my sister came back during the Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival for the first time. Our first stop? The Star Championships – Day 1. Getting dressed up and going to the races together felt like when we were younger. The clothes, the races, the atmosphere. Time flies but some things never change.
The Championships is one of the best days I've had at the races
Attending The Championships a few years back is one of the best days I’ve had at the races. It had everything! The atmosphere, entertainment and all for the cost of a public ticket made it a fantastic day. I now look forward to The Championships every year and make it my annual trip away with mates.
Group 1 glory with Single Gaze
The win on Single Gaze (in the Vinery Stud Stakes) meant a lot to me, but it meant so much to the team around me.
To win for the team (trainer Nick Olive and trackwork rider Billy Owen) was exciting knowing how much work they put in to get there.
It was just a real underdog performance! It’s hard to find a horse like her, so to win in those circumstances was such a massive thrill.
She had her doubters but that made it even sweeter. I was as confident as I’ve been heading into a Group 1 race.
Since going to the races for the first time I've never looked back
Since going to the races for the first time I’ve never looked back! Walking in to see everyone dressed in vibrant colours, beautiful pop-up’s serving food and drink and then looking on to the lush green track. Sitting on the sidelines, watching the horses competing at their best while enjoying it all with friends. Simply unforgettable!
We’ve been the best of friends for over twenty years. And we have this tradition where we get together to do something fun every few months – trips, afternoon tea, spa days, shopping. But nothing beats the racing.
This year we picked Ladies Day. We arrived, all of us dressed head to toe in pink, ready to have some fun. And that’s exactly what we did. We had a blast at the Pink Fashion Lunch – the food, fashion, and company were just divine. A marvellous day with the women I love most.
5.30AM. AND THE RACE IS ON
On Longines Golden Slipper Day, we get nearly 25,000 through the gates at Rosehill Gardens. They’re all hungry, thirsty and looking to party. As Group Executive Chef, it’s safe to say, my day starts early. I’m up in the dark – making sure the deliveries arrive and the prep is sorted before the gates open, while the course is still peaceful. The calm before the storm!
But then it’s full-on, hectic, mad, brilliant and beautiful. Nothing beats a day here when the place is rocking. Everyone out in their finest, having a great time. Sydney doing what it does best.
First Golden Slipper for Jimmy and Gai with Ha Ha
Jimmy Cassidy and Gai Waterhouse
The win on Ha Ha in the 2001 Golden Slipper was so special. It was not only my first but also Gai’s (Waterhouse).
It was so good to with for her and Singo (John Singleton), which was also the start of something big between us.
She was just a beautiful animal. I had a tear in my eye I was that happy.
The Golden Slipper is one everyone wants to win! Every trainer, every breeder, every owner, every jockey.
Every Jockeys Dream
It is every jockeys dream to ride a horse of the calibre of Octagonal.
He just had such a great determination and will to win. Every race was a hard race, and he delivered every time.
He won four Group 1 races that autumn (Canterbury Guineas, Rosehill Guineas, Australian Derby and Tancred Stakes) which was incredible.
It was a great time in my career and the people that were involved with him as well.
SETTING HEARTS RACING (AND DRINKS FLYING)
You never forget your first time at Randwick. The beautiful setting. The drama. Everyone dressed up and ready for a great time. My first visit was extra special. I was with my girlfriends for the George Main Stakes.
On my way through the bar, I bumped into this guy and sent his drinks FLYING. He was soaked. I was mortified. And I was too busy apologising to notice how handsome he was.
Thankfully he asked for my number – and the rest is history.
It’s been five years and we come back every year to celebrate the day we met.
Coolmore Classic King
The Coolmore Classic means a lot to me. It’s my most successful race as a trainer.
Having won the race four times as a trainer it was with Dixie Blossoms in 2019 at Rosehill Gardens that stands out the most.
This was one of the biggest thrills I’ve ever had on a racetrack. She was a darling of a horse. Just the kindest and most intelligent animal.
She had been knocking on the door of a Group 1 win for so long and to finally get it was just so bloody exciting. What a way to do it.
I was so pleased to win the race for owner and ATC Director Alan Osburg who was such a joy to train for.
RISING TO THE OCCASION
Being trackside is unbeatable. I’m mad about racing so I’ll take any chance to be down at the course. When you’re close to the action it is a different experience altogether. Every sense is buzzing. The view, the roar of the crowd, the feeling of the ground thumping as horses thunder past.
Two years ago, my wife surprised me with a special birthday race day experience at Champion Stakes Day. She smashed it. A table at Grandview, with every detail considered. Immaculate service, incredible views, drinks on tap, celebrating in the private lounge – the works. A birthday I’ll never forget.
From the moment I woke up that day, I knew it was going to be a good one. The weather was perfect for Longines Golden Slipper Day. The energy was contagious. Rosehill Gardens was buzzing. The crowd couldn’t wait for the racing to start.
Our youngest daughter is nicknamed “Queenie” (long story), so when we saw She Will Reign was running, it was a no-brainer. Imagine how thrilled we were when she won! We were ecstatic. We partied at the course until late. It was incredible fun – the best people with the best atmosphere, having the best time.
THE WINNERS' CIRCLE
Watching the races from the Grandstand is always a great experience. Panoramic views from the corporate boxes give the best view of the racehorses and their jockeys before the races. And once the claxon sounds – it’s a spectacular sight to behold. Drinks barely stay in their glasses when the horses hit the home straight – but that makes it all the more exciting. The cheering, commentary and the laughter all make for a fantastic day.
THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE
Our day started with a bang. We arrived early, ahead of the first race for Stakes Day. By midday, the energy at Rosehill Gardens was electric. Crowds of people attending each race, stopping for drinks and nibbles in between. And we decided to do the same. I’ve heard great things about the food at Rosehill Gardens and it didn’t disappoint. The three-course dining at Ascot Restaurant blew it out of the water. From the spicy Thai beef salad, the chickpea and pumpkin ragu to the crème brûlée. Fantastic races, amazing food and great company That’s the life.
RAISING THE STYLE STAKES
ATC racegoers turn on the style every race day. It’s the highlight each time I visit – and last year’s Star Championships did not disappoint. It was a glorious black and white affair. Ladies donned elegant headwear and runway-ready outfits and the gents wore equally sharp suits. What a phenomenal sight! I loved every minute. I wore a white off-the-shoulder midi dress, a matching fascinator, and my new heels. And for contrast, I paired that with a swatch of my favourite red lipstick and gold earrings. When you’re rubbing shoulders with the city’s finest dressed fashionistas, you need to bring out your best.
A STAR RISING
I remember the crowds at Randwick were practically bursting that day. The excitement was palpable. It was the 2015 Epsom Stakes. Back then, Winx was a good horse, but no one could have imagined the legacy she’d forge. She was a young rising star and off the back of a few wins, but the competition was tough. It was down to the last 100 meters when she finally broke out of the pack and charged down the field. What an incredible turn of foot! It was absolutely one of the best things I have ever seen. Who would have known that she would become such an icon?
ODDS ON FAVOURITE
We came across the Friday Night Racing event on Facebook. Racing under the stars, food, games, and music. It looked perfect for the whole family – so we thought sign us up! Our kids loved every minute of it. The bouncy castle, teacup rides, petting area, all of it. A whole crowd of us go down with our families now – a bit of races, some drinks and a lot of laughter. It’s a real treat for a Friday summer evening.
Last year, I promised that I was going to spend more time getting out and enjoying myself. So what better way to start fresh than by letting my hair down with some New Year’s Day Racing at Royal Randwick? I went with some friends. After we enjoyed a couple of cocktails at the bar we watched the racing in the Winx stand, had some food won some money and then partied with the DJ after the racing ended. Between my new outfit and newfound love for racing, I think it’s safe to say that was a mission accomplished. We’ve already bought tickets to our next day out.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Racing is in my blood. A family obsession. My grandfather was a jockey when he was young, and my father dabbled in ownership at one point. Me? I’m more than happy to watch the races from the Stables or Heritage Suite. As a member, you get sweeping views of the course and mix with like-minded horse racing enthusiasts. I’ve witnessed the rise of national legends such as Black Caviar, Sunline and Makybe Diva but my favourite will always be Winx. I’ve been around to see the old Grandstand and the new Grandstand. A lot has changed but what hasn’t changed is the magic of racing, the anticipation, the thrill and the joyous, infectious energy of horse racing lovers.
A CUT ABOVE
Racing season is always a big one for us. Looking great on race day is mandatory and I’m proud to be a part of that. I have regulars who come to me for the day – a cut, colour, highlights, anything to help them put their best forward. But this year we thought, why let everyone else have the fun? We actually went to Ladies Day for the first time after a client talked us into it. I loved it! Everyone looking and feeling their best Sleek updos, voluminous curls, expertly done highlights, it was incredible to see. And we had a laugh riot – from the moment we arrived to partying late into the evening, the day was incredible.
A DIFFERENT WORLD
Three years ago, I was invited to Stakes Day by an intriguing guy who I knew through work. I’d never been before, but was a corporate day out, so I thought I’d try something new. It felt like a different world, the good kind. Well-dressed ladies and gents everywhere, massive, sweeping racecourses, overflowing glasses of Moët, and of course, races that felt – theatrical to say the least. I was hooked – racing has found a life-long fan in me. And the chap who invited me? I’m thrilled to say he’s now my fiancé.
ONE FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS
We all gathered one last time to see Winx. The young, the old, Sydneysiders and Aussies from all across the country all at Royal Randwick for the Queen Elizabeth Stakes. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To see our national treasure race – and win – I remember it like it was yesterday. Our cheering intensified as she broke through in typical Winx fashion and raced down the finish line. It was spectacular and I’m proud that I got to witness that.
THE SOCIAL EVENT OF THE YEAR
Race days are one of the city’s biggest social events. Elegance. Glamour. The chance to mix and mingle with Sydney’s finest. Last year, I went to Golden Gift Ladies Day with a group of friends for the first time, but got lost on my way back from the ladies. I ended up at this random section. Luckily, there was a group there that looked about my age and they helped me out. We talked for ages and finally got back in touch with my group – we all got on like a house on fire. I left with five new friends! Since then, we’ve been texting constantly and meet up all the time. We’re heading back to Ladies Day again this year.
SCALING NEW HEIGHTS
It’s the busiest, biggest day of the year at Royal Randwick. Everest Day. It feels like the whole city descends on us. As head barman, it’s my job to keep the celebrations flowing. From the finest champagne to robust reds, wonderful whites and more than a few beers – I’m responsible for keeping the bars running and the punters happy and hydrated. Every year is busier and more interesting than the last. And I love seeing racegoers come in. Whether you’re a racing purist or a newbie, something for everyone here. But what really makes it is having a great team behind me, helping keep the wheels turning.
THE PERFECT MATCH
We all arrived at Randwick for a very special day. A picture-perfect wedding for two amazing people. The bride, a vision in a custom Steven Khalil. The groom looked just as dashing in his tailored suit. Over a hundred of us seated in a grand ballroom. Flowers everywhere. Sunshine. Drinks. The best canapés. Exquisite meals. Dancing till dawn. What better to start life as a married couple than the place where you first met?
A DAY WITH EVERYTHING.
Our day started with a bang. We arrived early, ahead of the first race for Everest Day back in 2020. By midday, the energy at Randwick was electric. Crowds of people attending each race, stopping for drinks and nibbles in between. And we decided to do the same. I’ve heard great things about the food at Randwick and when we heard Dany Karam was jumping on board as a feature chef we brought our tickets straight away and it didn’t disappoint. The canape menu in The Conservatory blew us away. From the smoked beef fillet, the kingfish tartare to the lemon tart and the oysters! We have booked our tickets again for this Autumn Carnival to relive the Dany Karam trackside dining experience. It really is a fantastic day out at the races, with amazing food and great company. That’s the life.