Gai Waterhouse helps launch women in racing scheme.
During the 2011 Melbourne Cup Carnival about 355,086 people passed through the gates at Flemington in order to catch a glimpse of the action on and off the track.
And Victorian Racing Club chief executive Dale Monteith declared the four-day racing, entertainment and fashion spectacle a huge success.
Yet despite ongoing public interest in the world of racing there has long been a perception that the industry is somewhat of a boys club.
With the notable exception of Australian Racing Hall of Famer Gai Waterhouse, winner of more than 100 group race, it seems that the sport is struggling to attract women to its folds.
Gerry Harvey, who owns among other things the Gold Coast racing event Magic Millions, is working hard to increase the number of women who own and train horses by putting together a $500,000 incentive scheme.
On hand to launch the incentive were Gai Waterhouse and Katie Page, who both stated their desire to see more women in racing.
Page, who is the managing director of Harvey Norman and co-owner of Magic Millions with husband Harvey, hoped the scheme would promote greater gender equality in the sport.
"Women still earn 17 per cent less than men in Australia for the same job," she asserted.
"We have a long way to go and I hope the half-million helps.
"I promise you that participation of women in racing will be different from today. This is an exciting sport and it should be 50 per cent women and 50 per cent men."
The Magic Millions Women scheme was first announced in November last year, but Mr Harvey did not seem initially impressed with the program.
After some gentle persuasion the businessman says he now sees the benefit of the incentive: "I know it will mean real growth for the industry in the end."
Ms Waterhouse, who wrote about the announcement on her official blog, said she was thrilled to have helped launch the racing scheme.
And as if cementing the view that more needed to be done to help equalise gender differences within racing, she made this passing aside.
"Katie Page was putting on a high tea for the ladies but not before TV personality extraordinaire, Anthony Mithen, interviewed many racing and breeding personalities who all happened to be males, and there I was ready to give a talk on women in racing," she wrote.
For women who are interested in the horse-ownership scheme information is available online from official racing websites.