Armidale Can Assist Luncheon for Melbourne Cup 2017

Hundreds of punters headed down to the Armidale Jockey Club on Tuesday for the annual Can Assist Melbourne Cup Luncheon. 

The nation-stopping race saw Lloyd Williams triumph in the 2017 Melbourne Cup, with Rekindling beating Johannes Vermeer while Max Dynamite came third. 

Before the big race New England by-election candidate and former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce enjoyed a couple of champagnes at the Armidale Luncheon before heading back to Tamworth to watch the final sprint alongside Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

“This is the best race meeting without a horse in Australia today,” Mr Joyce told The Express on Tuesday morning. 

“I’ve been meeting lots of people who are having an absolutely marvelous time … it’s great to be here.”

And of course the luncheon is all about supporting a good local cause.

Armidale’s Matt Lynch said it was his first Can Assist Cup luncheon, and he was proud to support the organisation.

“As most of the community know I have a daughter who has been affected by cancer so I’m happy to help out to support a great day like this,” Mr Lynch said.

“Everyone is dressed up, I tried my best and hopefully I fit in.

“They raise money to help people get into programs, transport, assistance getting to hospital – all those outside things that you need when you’ve got cancer.

“We’re very happy to support this great organisation, cancer touches so many people, so many people know so many people that have had cancer – family, friends, anything to help is great.”

Armidale Can Assist branch president Carol Higginbottom said she was very pleased with how the day was turning out.

“We have 250 people here today which is amazing,” she said.

“It’s absolutely beautiful – we have a 36 metre marquee and all the tables are set up with beautiful floral arrangements.

“After all the rain and hail yesterday we prayed for a good day and God was wonderful to give it to us.”

Meanwhile, Australian Country Party candidate Ian Britza watched the race on the big screens at Armidale’s White Bull Hotel.

The former Western Australia Liberal MP arrived in the region on Saturday and has been campaigning in Tamworth, tackling big issues including youth unemployment and accessibility to the NBN connection.

“I think coming from outside the area is a positive thing because you see things with new eyes and new ears,” he said.