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The race that stops FNQ is back in tropical, bucket-list style

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Cairns Amateurs Carnival, Media Release, 24 May 2024

With renewed bucket list charm, the Great Northern Brewing Co. Cairns Amateurs Carnival gets the fun back on track in 2024 with three days of fashion, horse racing, social events, and pure springtime revelry from Thursday, 12 to Saturday, 14 September.

Injecting more than $3 million into the region’s coffers each year, all eyes will once again be on Tropical North Queensland in September when Cairns’ iconic and time-honoured event puts on a show, drawing up to 10,000 city and country folk together in a colourful spectacle dating back to 1959. 

After finalising an IP License agreement with Racing Queensland earlier this year, Cairns Jockey Club (CJC) has assumed operational responsibility for Cairns Amateurs Carnival, with the guidance of an appointed Steering Committee (SteerCo), will uphold the 66-year legacy while infusing the Carnival with fresh appeal.  

Cairns Amateurs Carnival SteerCo Chair Jacinta Reddan unveiled The Ultimate Tropical Carnival as this year’s new attention-grabbing brand destined to hit all the high notes with punters, fashionistas, and visitors.

According to Ms Reddan, this week’s theme announcement coincides with the online and ‘live’ launch of Cairns Amateurs’ all-new website, ticket sales, and digital campaign.

“The Ultimate Tropical Carnival tips its hat to the region’s pinnacle social event and standalone identity, which has evolved over many years to combine the sport of horse racing with fashions on the field, corporate entertaining, sophisticated social events, and fun with friends at the track into one multidimensional program,” Ms Reddan said.

Ms Reddan outlined the lively festival program, which gets underway on Thursday, 12 September with hundreds of guests converging on the city’s waterfront for the annual Fashion High Tea and parade, showcasing new Spring/Summer looks from high-street labels, local milliners, and Queensland’s First Nations fashion designers. 

Day one culminates at sunset with CJC members and VIP guests attending the Welcome Cocktail Party – a warm-up to two days of live racing and fashion action at Cannon Park. Ladies Day on Friday, 13 September, presents a full day of corporate hospitality, horse racing and fashions-on-the-field competition before returning to the waterfront marquee for fireworks, enjoyed by partygoers dressed to the ‘nines’.  

Following a memorable evening under the stars, the Cannon Park competition resumes – capping off the three-day program on Saturday, 14 September, with the hotly contested Cairns Amateurs Cup and sashing of the most sartorial Fashions on the Field competitors across both days.

While pressing the green light on ticket sales, Ms Reddan said she was pleased to welcome back the event’s foundation sponsor and presenting naming partner, Great Northern Brewing Co.

“Cairns Amateurs Carnival and CUB’s incredibly long and fruitful partnership is a valuable relationship we don’t take for granted.

“It, therefore, gives me great pleasure to announce this year’s event, the Great Northern Brewing Co. Cairns Amateurs Carnival.

“The best partnerships are enduring, and we look forward to working with CUB to ensure this is mutually rewarding, not least for racegoers and Amateurs fans,” Ms Reddan said.

CJC committee member and SteerCo representative Rebecca Conlan is a passionate advocate for horse racing and Fashions on the Field.

Ms Conlan, whose relationship with Cairns Amateurs was forged from childhood and her family’s cross-generational involvement, said she welcomed CUB’s support in presenting this year’s spring carnival.

“There is excellent synergy between CJC, Cairns Amateurs and CUB,” said Ms Conlan.

“The Amateurs is an event embodying friendship, community spirit, and our tropical way of life.

“The solid partnership between the CJC and the SteerCo will honour the dedication of countless committee members and volunteers and their tireless work behind the scenes to ensure four memorable days go off without a hitch,” she said.

For further information and to buy tickets to the Great Northern Brewing Co. Cairns Amateurs Carnival at Ladbrokes Cannon Park, visit www.cairnsamateurs.org.au  

About Cairns Amateurs Carnival

The Far North Queensland Amateur Turf Club Inc. was established in 1959 by the late Sir Sydney Williams OBE and Les Gallagher to introduce a coastal version of the historical Oak Park races to bring city and country people together.

The committee consisted of 10 members representing outback stations and Cairns businesses. On September 18 and 19, 1959, it presented the first-ever Cairns Amateurs Carnival.

In its early days, the Cairns Amateurs ran six races each day of the two-day program, held under Vice-Regal patronage with the then Governor, Sir Henry Abel Smith.

As the club’s name suggests, jockeys were amateur riders and came mainly from the inland stations.

Professional riders were not present until many years later due to changes in race regulations.

While the club expressed disappointment at the mid-1990s ruling, which disallowed amateur riders from competing, the ‘amateurs’ tradition has been retained and is deeply instilled within the spirit of the club’s culture.

Today, the club’s mission is to operate a sustainable and accessible annual racing carnival showcasing Cairns’ social, cultural, and commercial attributes and the tropical north.

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