THIS year’s Face of the Mornington Racing Club, Caitrin O’Rourke, is no stranger to racecourses.
The 29-year-old nurse from Ireland relocated to Australia two years ago and has always had a keen interest in horse racing.
“My dad and brothers had shares in horses in Ireland and I have been doing show jumping and racing since I was a lass. While I was putting myself through uni I rode track work for trainers to earn extra money,” said Ms O’Rourke, who lives next to the Mornington Racecourse with her partner, racecourse vet Eoin Kelly.
Ms O’Rourke arrived in Melbourne two years ago on Peninsula Cup Day and spent her first seven days at seven different race meetings.
“In my first week here, I spent all my time at Moonee Valley and then Mornington,” she said.
“While I was waiting for my nursing registration, I worked for Pat Carey in Mornington and Gai Waterhouse at Randwick doing track work.
“I have ridden races in Ireland and some charity races and still do work around the racecourse.
“I was attracted to Mornington because that’s where Eoin is based and have loved making it my new home. I can understand why so many people from Ireland and England have moved here.”
As a paediatric nurse at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Ms O’Rourke says racing and fashion provide a great outlet.
“I love getting dressed up to go to the races and am looking forward to representing the local community. I like to shop locally and support peninsula boutiques and milliners,” she said.
“Although I have competed in a few fashions on the field, this is the first time I have applied for anything like this and can’t wait to start attending functions and putting outfits together.”
Ms O’Rourke said that when it comes to fashion, it is best to stick with what works for you.
“Style is a very individual thing and it’s important to stay with what suits you,” she said.
“This spring carnival we will see bold floral prints, bold colours like bright yellows and acid orange as well as prints like houndstooth.
“My personal style is classical with nice dresses and I always seem to wear pearls.
“The most important thing is to wear what you feel comfortable and confident in. If you have a long day at the races make sure your shoes fit you well and are comfortable like wedges instead of stilettos.”
As the new Face of Mornington Racing Club, Ms O’Rourke receives a 12-month modelling and management contract, pampering and style packages and $500 cash.
She will also have the opportunity to attend fashion and race day events and be involved in on-stage interviews and hosting events, trophy presentations, media interviews and fashions on the field competitions.
Judges felt that Ms O’Rourke’s international horse racing experience, dedication to learning the ropes, savvy fashion sense, outgoing personality and natural beauty meant she was the perfect candidate to front the promotion of Mornington Racecourse.
“Caitrin wowed us with her extensive experience and extreme passion for horseracing, not only in Victoria but throughout the world, and has a keen eye for racing fashion which will be a huge asset in her new role at Mornington,” racecourse manager Angela Cleland said.
Ms O’Rourke’s first appearance in her new role is at Sportingbet Peninsula Cup Day on Sunday 3 November.