Committed to the racing world
It's been estimated that the racing industry brings $3 million and more to Cairns through race day fashion. At the heart of this important industry is the Cairns Jockey Club. Stepping up as committee members are three passionate women in their 20s. Meet Liz Greatorex, Emma Verri and Jaydee Paino...
Liz Greatorex is into people-watching at the races; the good, the bad, the ugly and occasionally even the sublime. Which is why her latest gig at the Cairns Jockey Club is the perfect aside to her regular day job as a property valuer. While Liz has been competing in fashions on the field since she was 18, she’s relishing her new role in the background. It’s a chance to combine her affinity for order and lists with her passion for racing fashions.
“Although there’s nothing like the excitement of placing a bet and getting a win, my main motivation is the fashion. I could stand there for hours, people-watching all the beautiful women in their stunning attire and gorgeous hats walk around the track. There’s something about the racing industry that really brings out the prestige and ladylike style, for most.
“I enjoy the atmosphere created by the fashions on the field where there’s this fierce competition and everyone really brings what they’ve got to the catwalk. And I must admit, I quite enjoy placing my own bets from the sideline as to who will take the sash, and let me tell you that I’m not often wrong.”
While Liz might have a keen sense of other women’s winning fashion, she rarely puts a foot wrong on the fashion field herself. Immaculate and classic, this 25 year old has been competing in fashions on the field since she was 18 with wins at the Cairns Cup and Amateurs.
“I thoroughly enjoy creating and styling my outfits alongside with my talented mum who makes them happen. I must admit, I don’t take myself too seriously and while I do love to partake in the fashion stakes, I equally enjoy sitting back with a glass or two of champagne and taking it all in.
“My grandmother worked in millinery at a young age and from here built up her own women’s clothing businesses in Brisbane from the early ’60s. During this time it was a little bit out of the ordinary for young single women to own businesses. Her flair for fashion was passed on to my mother who studied fashion design in Brisbane.
“The line of strong women in my family with a solid fashion background has given me an insight into the industry and has played a huge part in my interest for fashion.”
Despite the fun and frivolity of the racing season, Liz has a clear vision of what she wants to achieve at the CJC and has already started getting down to business.
“We hope as a team to raise the bar for fashions on the field in Cairns and North Queensland and exceed expectations when it comes to the competition itself. Cairns really does represent well when it comes to fashion and we don’t want to lose that. Ideally, we want to create a real following for the Cairns racing scene.”
Emma Verri grew up around her mother’s fabric shop at Mossman and dreamed of the day she would be old enough to wear the gorgeous dresses hanging in her wardrobe. Fast-forward 20 years and Emma is now a confident and fashionable young woman. By the time you read this, the blissed-out bride will be jet-setting off to New York for her honeymoon and just quietly, checking out the spring/summer collections on offer.
But it is still her mother’s early guidance that’s been the strongest fashion influence in her life. Ever since her mum took her along to the country races at 15 until she started competing at 18 right through to today, Emma’s mum has been proudly by her side every step of the way. But it’s her latest challenge as one of Cairns Jockey Club’s newest recruits that’s given her an inside look into the industry she’s been fascinated with for more than a decade. The 26-year-old joins fellow fashionistas Jaydee Paino and Liz Greatorex in taking on the CJC racing fashion events this year. The three women will take the reins from one of Cairns’ leading ladies, Amanda Macor, and Emma agrees the task is an onerous one. But she’s also full of youthful enthusiasm that will come in handy for the voluntary position.
“I got into fashions on the field from my mum... I have all these memories of mum’s dresses and fabrics and I grew up around that,” she says.
“When I was young I’d look at those dresses and think, one day I’m going to grow up and wear that.”
Since her first fashions on the field, Emma’s mum lovingly crafted all of her outfits and created one‑of‑a‑kind ensembles that saw Emma take out the under 24 section in Amateurs fashions on the field in 2004 and again in 2008. Emma also won the Cairns Cup last year but admits the social side of racing is what appeals to her most.
“I’ve just always loved getting among beautiful women and having that similar interest... It’s that little bit extra that adds an interesting edge to my life.
“It’s going to be huge. Amanda Macor has been running the CJC fashions for years. We’ve got very big shoes to fill... I still don’t know how we’re going to do it because she’s so awesome and the racing matriarch.
“We’ll be co-ordinating fashions on the field as well be part of the mystery judges on the smaller race days. We’re also trying to organise prizes, sponsorship, fashion, as well as organising the ladies on the day. I love it and do it for the complete and utter fun of it.”
Jaydee Paino’s passion for vintage is stronger than ever, but she’s taking a welcome hiatus from competing. This year the celebrated fashionista will get behind the scenes of the Cairns Jockey Club to bring its fashion race days to the next level.
As the 2010 Oaks Day Fashions on the Field national winner of ‘that’ dress, Jaydee is bringing her A game to this year’s suite of fashion racing events, starting with securing some prestigious judges for the Cairns Cup.
“I really admire Amanda Macor. She’s been an inspiration to me and I’m pleased and happy to be following in her footsteps. She’s got a fantastic sense of style and substance and I truly don’t know how she did it on her own all this time. She not only guides us but pushes us in the right direction.
“I’m looking towards the Cairns Cup this year and looking to make it finely polished and give it a high standard of judging.
“I’m very excited about taking it to the next level but also to be taking a step back from being the centre of the fashions to a more pivotal role behind the scenes.”
From behind the scenes, Jaydee will use her keen sense of style to welcome a new generation of girls into fashions on the field.
“What I’m seeing through the competitions is women choosing one or two colours and making it classic and elegant. There’s a higher value on accessories as one of the main parts of the outfit and not just an afterthought. There’s lots of gold and bronze and colour and what I’m seeing is girls really paying attention to detail and to what suits them. I’ve seen so many ladies evolve but at the same time I feel like I’m evolving and just hitting my stride now.”
While Jaydee might be taking a backseat from competing, nothing will stop her constantly dreaming up the perfect outfit. With a personal invitation to be part of the National Racing Museum’s 50th anniversary celebrations of Flemington this year, there’ll be little down time for Jaydee in the coming months.
“I’ll be loaning my outfit in its entirety to the exhibition including all of the photographs, sashes, goody bags and other paraphernalia. I’ll also be contributing my own personal reflections on my experience of the fashion on the field.
“Someone said to me once, ‘oh you’re the girl in THAT dress’. It was so iconic that I don’t know that I could ever wear it again. At the end of last year I had a real feeling of sadness that that chapter of my life was over... that’s why I’m really looking forward to this next chapter of my life.”
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Emma Verri, Liz Greatorex and Jaydee Paino have all stepped up as Cairns Jockey Club committee members