THE horses were fast, the crowd was huge and the sun was shining.

Organisers of the Mackay Beach Horse Racing Festival promised another successful event.

And they delivered.

High heels were swapped for thongs, sneakers and sandals. Some even went barefooted.

Several thousand people poured onto the sand at Mackay Harbour beach.

It was transformed into a party wonderland with live music, VIP tents and bars.

An unexpected tide surge delayed the first race.

But race-goers weren't worried.

Mackay woman Robyn Collins and her friends had a ball.

"It is a spectaculas maximus event," Mrs Collins, wearing a toga, said.

"The races are an international drawcard for Mackay."

Some people insisted on wearing fascinators, while for others a stubby cooler was the vital accessory.

Codi Smallwood, Carmen Radloff, Helen Mines and Bianca Samson came from Townsville for the Beach Race Day.
Codi Smallwood, Carmen Radloff, Helen Mines and Bianca Samson came from Townsville for the Beach Race Day.

Townsville woman Carmen Radloff had to leave her betting money in her wallet.

"Every time I go to the races I bet on a horse," she said.

"My girlfriends and I travel to different races in Australia each year.

"We chose Mackay this year, because the beach aspect attracted us to it.

Sarah Casey (left), Matt Spillman, Leigh Bain and Allana Connolly toast the success of a day of sun, sand and racing.
Sarah Casey (left), Matt Spillman, Leigh Bain and Allana Connolly toast the success of a day of sun, sand and racing.

"Not being able to bet is a disappointment."

Mackay woman Allana Connolly was relieved the event had been moved to a Saturday.

"Last year it was on a Sunday, so there was no recovery period," she said.

"This year it's fantastic."

Transport at the event also improved.

David Dunbavan, Alycia Wall and Kelvin Jeffs enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of the beach race day.
David Dunbavan, Alycia Wall and Kelvin Jeffs enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of the beach race day.

A shuttle bus ran all day between the Marina car park and the entry gate.

The bus cost a gold coin donation, raising funds towards the Riding for the Disabled Association, Mackay.


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