VIDEO: Racing pigs steal Melbourne Cup spotlight in Gympie
WHILE an early Flemington deluge threatened to derail Australian racing's biggest day, stifling conditions at the Gympie Turf Club forced a strong crowd to contend with the weather spectrum's other extreme.
Veteran punters and random guessers combined under the shade of the betting ring and the Turf Club bar to watch Cross Counter storm home and hand the UAE's famous Godolphin stable their first ever Cup win.
Multiple racegoers received paramedic treatment after coming off worse for wear in the 34C heat which felt much higher trackside.
The main local attraction came in the form of Noah's eight lightning-fast "Thoroughbread Racing Pigs", with part of the day's winnings going to Little Haven Palliative Care.
Gympie Turf Club president Shane Gill said the day was a "great success". "I'm happy with the crowd, it's as good as could have been expected," he said.
"Every man and his dog has an event on today, the Melbourne Cup's always a hard one to judge on numbers but I'm more than happy with what we've got here. (The pig racing) was a big hit, everyone was loving it. You only have to see the money that's been spent on the pigs, it's something new, it's something different, it's fresh.
"It's the race that stops a nation, even if you haven't got an interest in racing you tend to show an interest in the Melbourne Cup. To pick the winner when there's 24 in that race, you feel special in yourself just picking it so you can imagine how the owners would feel.
"It's bragging rights for the year if you pick the Cup, it's like picking the winner at the start of the footy season."
Mr Gill's father John backed Cross Counter home, but attributed his success to a "lucky guess".
"I did look at his form and thought he was a bit of a chance looking at the lighter weight he was carrying. I didn't even know about the weather until the race jumped because I was there working, but when he got up I thought 'I backed that'. It's only the second time I've backed the winner since Beldale Ball in 1980. It's a great Australian tradition, the majority of people have a bet on the Melbourne Cup and most people wouldn't bet for the rest of the year."
Kym Randall and her family took home a cool $650 when the light blue pig took out the feature race immediately following the Cup.
"This is better than the horses, it's just a bit of fun," Mrs Randall said. "I've been to the camels before but that was five years ago, we didn't have as much luck in the Cup today but we've won the pig races."
Mrs Randall said the family punters were considering whether to try their luck in the later pig races or "quit while we're ahead".