Racegoers let their hair down in a big way at the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday, and not even some wild weather could put a dampener on things.
An estimated 70,000 racegoers converged on Flemington, with attendance dwarfing the 10,000 at last year's Cup and none in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Temperatures dropped to a staggering 10C, making Tuesday the coldest Melbourne Cup day in decades.
Thunderstorms and heavy rain wreaked havoc before the Melbourne Cup at 3pm, with hail then descending on Flemington at about 5pm as the weather turned nasty.
But the wild weather failed to dampen spirits as punters let loose in celebration of a return to the races.
Sporting bold fascinators and ties while clutching umbrellas, punters gathered in brightly-coloured frocks and tailored suits to watch the race that stops the nation.
Things did get a bit sloppy towards the end of the day, but racegoers probably had an excuse considering the trying few years that Melburnians have endured due to the pandemic.
Punter Marty Johnson told AAP it was a relief to have some freedom after an extended lockdown during the pandemic.
"It's great to see everyone about and to engage with the world again," Mr Johnson said.
"This is an iconic event and probably one of the best days of the year so it feels awesome to be out and about again."
Mitch Ogden travelled from Queensland for the annual event.
"This is my first time in Melbourne, I've been here for about a week - I'm originally from Brisbane so it's great to see it down on the ground instead of on the screen for once and even with the weather, everyone is still out having a good time so I'm really happy to be here," he said.
One shirtless punter appeared to be in high spirits as he let loose with a makeshift slip and slide on the field as the hail rained down.
Many looked worse for wear as the event came to an end, but a strong police presence ensured there was little to no anti-social behaviour.
Victoria Police investigating damage to track
Before dawn an unidentified person allegedly broke into the racecourse to protest the 'toxic' racing industry, pouring an oil-like substance on the track.
Victoria Police said it was investigating the incident, with climate change activist group Extinction Rebellion Victoria applauding the stunt as Racing Victoria scrambled to repair the damage.
"Melbourne Criminal Investigation Unit detectives are investigating after unknown offenders have broken into a racing facility in Flemington and poured an unknown substance over a portion of the track about 6am this morning," Victoria Police said in a statement.
There was almost as much action outside the Flemington gates, as animal rights activists turned heads with bold signs calling for an end to the 'archaic' sport.
The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses urged people to say 'Nup to the Cup', saying 139 racehorses died on Australian tracks in the past racing year.
This year's Melbourne Cup Carnival partnered with local charity GIVIT to support flood-impacted people and communities throughout Australia.
Check out some more of the best photos from the day:
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