BUBBLY PAIR: Caz Hanks and Jaz Kratz enjoying some bubbles at the Reef Gateway Hotel
BUBBLY PAIR: Caz Hanks and Jaz Kratz enjoying some bubbles at the Reef Gateway Hotel Georgia Simpson

Melbourne Cup in the heart of Airlie Beach

THE air was alive with excitement and perfume... and perhaps a small amount of sweat as 200 people gathered in the back courtyard at the Reef Gateway Hotel for their annual Melbourne Cup Garden Party on Tuesday.

The red carpet was rolled out, and an arch decorated with white and red roses emulated the walkway at Flemington as guests made an entrance into the garden party.

Twenty round tables were laid out, under a smattering of colourful lanterns and fairy lights.

Everywhere you could see people were dressed to impress.

Eyes were drawn to bright the bright pops of colour, of carefully selected dresses and fascinators adorning the heads of ladies in the room.

The men were also looking dapper in their finest, crisp shirts, accessorised with bright smiles and loud booming voices.

Hotel manager Kel Torr said the event was bigger than last year, with room for 40 extra people due to the inclusion of round tables.

"We've got a seafood buffet for everyone, as well as a separate drinks package," Mr Torr said.

"Michael Bennett the comedian is the MC for the day and we've set up a massive LED screen at the front so everyone can watch the race, and all the action," he said.

Mr Torr said event kicked off at 10am and would conclude at around 8pm.

The band Left of Centre was set to play live music for guests in the afternoon.

A magnum of Mumm sparkling wine was to be given to one lucky door prize winner, and there were various Mumm drink packages to be won throughout the day.

All around the men and women feasted on delicious prawns and oysters, fresh salads and meats.

Bottles of fizz were cracked open and little sweet-treats were nibbled at as the big screen played out the dreary rain of the live event in Melbourne.

It was obvious where you'd rather be.

Couples that dress together, stay together and that was apparent as Ivan and Maureen Conway, who have been married for 41 years, strolled onto the red carpet.

They were looking suave in their co-ordinated black and white outfits.

Mr Conway placed a bet on Yucatan purely because "it's going to win".

Jaz Kratz, dressed in a melding pot of aquas and blues, had a slightly different way of selecting her horse.

"I've chosen number nine, because that's the date of my birthday and the jockey is dressed in the same colours as I am," she said.

Number nine was Marmelo, who ran second in the race that stops the nation; hopefully for Ms Kratz she did a five or 10 dollar bet each way and came out with more cash than what she started with.

If only her birthday was the 23rd and she'd worn red and blue then perhaps this formula would have been foolproof.

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