Megan leaping into Cup mode

After once donning silks for race meets, Megan Brick will be wearing something slightly more ladylike for today's Melbourne Cup.

For 12 years, Ms Brick was a jockey.

Now she is on the other side of the running rail as marketing manager for Gallop South.

She started in the position two months ago and jumped right into Melbourne Cup Day preparations for Wingatui.

Having won the Grand National Hurdles and Steeplechase in 1999, under the surname Prendergast, Ms Brick gave up life as a jockey in 2002.

When dabbling in training did not work out, she decided to get involved in the administration side of racing and studied at the University of Otago. However, she still loved riding and did "track work occasionally".

While being "a bit nervous" about today, she believed Melbourne Cup day was "a good day to pull a sickie".

"For us, it started as everyone used to gather and just enjoy cup day, and then when Andre [Klein] came on board, he pushed for us to get a race day out here. It's a great atmosphere. It's a day out with your friends and workmates."

For those new to the scene, as many race-goers were, she had two tips. One, "drink plenty of water so you get to the finish line", and, two, if you are new to betting, join the Captain Phil Your Boots punters club.

Gallop South chief executive Andre Klein expects a crowd of up to 10,000 people - "weather dependent" - to flock to the racecourse today.

About 4500 corporate tickets had been pre-sold "which is a record" with "nearly everyone in Dunedin" claiming a marquee, or involved in one.

"We are all organised and are just keeping our fingers crossed for the weather."

Should MetService's forecast of rain developing with a cold southerly change prove correct, he knew the punters would remain "cosy" under plenty of cover.

He was looking forward to the public seeing the improvements to the grounds and grandstands, as well as a "tweaked" layout for the big day.

One of the biggest changes was shifting the Fashion on the Field parade to the front lawn.

A more important change was to security as it was "ramped up" to stop people bringing alcohol into the grounds. There would be "zero tolerance for anyone turning up with any sign of intoxication", Mr Klein said.

Senior Sergeant Darryl Lennane, of Mosgiel, hoped changes made to this year's event would "alleviate some of the problems" experienced last year.

"Last year, we apprehended a number of drivers attempting to leave the grounds intoxicated. We are certainly encouraging people to have some arrangements in place to leave the place appropriately," he said.

Breath-testing of drivers would be conducted throughout the day and Snr Sgt Lennane encouraged people to "be responsible" with alcohol.



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