Ann Peacock is one of the most recognisable faces of thoroughbred horse racing in Australia, and necessarily so. Not only is she the General Manager of Corporate and Public Relations at Crown Resorts Melbourne, she also happens to be the daughter of Lady Susan Renouf, one of the most well-loved ladies of Australian society, known for her love of celebrations and horse racing.
You might say that being Ann Peacock is probably as good as it gets, and you’d be right in a lot of ways. Here’s what it’s like to be her during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.
What is your favourite thing about Spring Racing Carnival?
I love each Spring Carnival because our city comes alive with this great event. In particular, the week of the Melbourne Cup Carnival is spectacular in every way: from the beautiful and interesting events, through to the great racing, the fashion and people enjoying themselves — there is no better place to be.
Please tell us about Melbourne Cup 1974.
When Beldale Ball won the Melbourne Cup, my sisters and I were at Boarding School in Geelong. We were allowed to listen to the race and it was so very exciting. Val Cummings sent us a stunning cake of a horse and the jockey in the Sangster racing colours, so even though we weren’t there, she and Mum and Robert included us in the celebrations.
Even when you already had your own family, did you still do things with your mum during Spring Racing Carnival?
Each year Mummy and I would attend most of the MCC race days together. She was always by my side on Crown Oaks Day in particular. This is the most important day for me each year as I make the presentation of the trophy to the winner. I am having a little cry now as I think about how very much I will miss her this year.
Do your kids also like horse racing?
My boys, Andrew and Woody are not yet as interested in horse racing as other sports and activities but of course, they know the history of both Mum and dad’s association with racing. They have had Mum visit their classes with the Melbourne Cup and have always enjoyed their stories.
These days, do you ever get to just enjoy yourself at the races, or does it always involve work in some way?
Days outside of the Melbourne Cup Carnival I can relax a lot more and enjoy the racing. I love to watch the races, study the horses and the form but on the major race days, there is work to be done, so not a lot of time to dedicate myself to selfishly sitting back and enjoying the day!
What does a day at a major race look like for you — what time do you wake up, what happens throughout the day?
Crown Oaks Day – the day is a most nerve-wracking one for me and it starts early too. Usually up at 6am for a little exercise then it’s straight into hair and makeup and off to the track. I always visit our Crown Marquee before heading up to the Committee Room. I spend the day in the Committee Room venturing out only to do a small cross on Flemington TV, or to have a little bit of time running through my words for the presentation.
Watching the race is like a dream as I am sitting there trying to work out who will win, then learn up quickly on the owners, jockey and trainer so I have something personal to say as we present trophies to them all. After the race we attend the winners’ bar for another presentation to the owners, and then it is relax time! I have a champagne and glow as the hardest day of the year is now over… I generally go out to the birdcage from here to see some friends then it is back in to Crown to assist if necessary with the winners’ celebrations.
How would you describe your style?
I always say that style is a smile – to get a smile, you must be comfortable so I do dress for the weather and ensure my heels are not too high!
Who are your favourite designers for racing fashion?
I don’t have a favourite designer for the races and I do tend to leave my fashion prep until the very last minute – probably 2 weeks out I start to think, mmmmm I better get organised. If possible, I like to buy my dress for Crown Oaks Day at any time earlier in the year, as soon as I see something and for the last couple of years I have purchased online. David Medwin here in Melbourne has made me a race outfit most years: he is used to me rushing in at the last minute and his dresses for me are always so very special.
Who are your favourite milliners?
The last couple of years I have had The Essential Hat do some beautiful hats for me, my Mum used them for many years.
Crown Oaks Day is one of the most beloved events of Spring Racing Carnival. Why do you think that is?
Derby Day has an element of excitement like no other day, the first day of the MCC and everyone is so excited. Melbourne Cup Day has that absolute honour of being a major national event plus the fashion is fun and more relaxed than Derby Day.
I love Crown Oaks Day because as it is “Ladies’ Day” there is the element of everything being beautiful. The racegoers are so beautifully dressed, they are all stunning.
“Being Ann Peacock.” This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Track Mode is a horse racing and fashion site founded and curated by Nina O’Brien. Subscribe to our newsletter to get exclusive race day fashion edits straight to your inbox! You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google+.
Treat yourself to our guide to Spring Racing Carnival 2016 to get the best out of the season! You’ll find racing fashion inspiration, guides to horse racing, and more interviews with the most important personalities in the horse racing industry.