Wagga, are you ready?
The first big social event since restrictions have eased is almost here, and more than 3000 people are set to descend on the Murrumbidgee Turf Club.
The Wagga Ag Races were created to raise money for Peter Worsley, an old boy of Ag College who broke his neck in a game of rugby, leaving him a quadriplegic.
More than 30 years on, the races still support him.
Committee member William Nixon said it was fantastic to see the tickets for the day had already sold out.
"It's unreal. I didn't expect it to sell out so quickly. We sold about 3700 tickets," he said.
"Even with the introduction of the double-vax rule, there weren't too many cancellations, and we reopened them with those ones, and they sold out within five minutes."
Mr Nixon said it was clear residents, especially university students, were keen to celebrate the day and enjoy the freedoms.
"I heard a few people were willing to pay $100 for a ticket, so just goes to show it's going to be a pretty good day," he said.
Have you thought about how you will navigate the day and make it to the other side? Here's your insider's survival guide to what to wear, how to bet, how to get there and of course, and where to keep the party going.
1. Dress to impress
Ladies, while sky-high heels and a mini skirt might seem like a good idea at the time, do yourself a favour and skip the blisters and goosebumps by dressing appropriately.
Not only does this mean adhering to the dress code, but also dressing with smarts.
If you think your outfit is runway worthy, sign up for Fashions on the Field which is due to kick off after race two.
Committee member Angie Molyneaux recommended spring colours, and when it comes to headwear "the bigger the better".
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"The categories will be best dressed lady, best dressed man, best dressed couple and millinery," she said.
"We will have registration at the gate and near the stage, so come on down. It's going to be a great day."
PRO TIP 1: Invest in a good quality clear poncho just in case as rain is predicted to fall.
PRO TIP 2: If you decide on wearing heels, stash a pair of flats in your bag just in case you later regret that choice.
2. Tackling transport
There's nothing worse when you're dressed and ready to go than realising there are no taxis available.
Whether you've chosen a designated driver, have booked a cab, or plan to take a courtesy bus, make sure you have pre-arranged your wheels.
Entry to the races is via Travers Street only. Please note that no tickets will be sold at the gate this year.
PRO TIP 1: Don't just organise the way there. Make sure you have a way home as well.
3. Show your form
Look for horses that are good at the track and distance, have solid recent form and have drawn a good barrier (anything inside barrier 10).
For short races (1000m-1400m), look for compact and stoutly built horses with big strong behinds. Don't worry too much about how fit they look. Pick the ones that looked keyed-up, bouncy and ready to go. If they're sweating a lot between the legs or around the flanks (near the lower ribs), your horse has already expended a lot of energy.
For longer races (2000m+), look for horses that have a longer, narrower look about them. You also want your distance horses to be relaxed rather than champing at the bit.
PRO TIP 1: Picking horses based on your favourite colour or catchy name is more than likely to send you home broke.
PRO TIP 2: Don't bet more than you can afford. Set an amount you're prepared to lose and stick to it.
4. COVID-safe rules
Just like any pub or shop, you will need to sign into the grounds with a QR code as part of COVID-Safe rules in NSW.
In line with current health orders, anyone who is attending the event must have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccination, and proof must be shown before entering the MTC.
Be patient on the day as staff will have to work through these new entry requirements.
Masks are required for all staff and customers in all indoor settings, including on public transport (except children under 12).
Whilst they are no longer required outdoors, the MTC recommends bringing one along if you find yourself unable to social distance, indoors, or catching public transport.
PRO TIP 1: Make sure you have your COVID-19 digital certificate ready to go on your phone or as a hard copy.
5. Pick a prime position
Take a look at the map of the grounds to ensure the maze of punters doesn't leave you in a sweaty panic.
Gates open at 11.30am, and the first race is at 1.29pm.
It's all about prime position, so know where to place your bets, where to find food and drinks, and how to get to the portable toilets.
PRO TIP 1: Once you have all the facts, pick a spot and set yourself up for the day.
6. Where to kick on
Buses will be at the Slocum Street exit from approximately 5.15pm onwards, heading to the William Farrer Hotel and down the main street.
The Farrer is going to be one of the spots to go to keep the party going, but you can continue the good times post-race at any venue throughout the city.
Due to COVID, you might want to plan this in advance, call up your favourite watering hole and book a table for the night to make sure you don't miss out.
Make sure to stay safe, gamble and drink responsibly and enjoy the weekend!
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