Pink Ribbon Raceweek returns for a good cause

There will be a distinct shade of pink amongst racegoers at the Gold Coast Turf Club this Saturday for the 16th edition of the Pink Ribbon Cup.

Starting in 2008, the Cup remains Australia’s largest official community fundraiser for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

It forms part of the Pink Ribbon Raceweek, which returns in 2023 following a successful inaugural running in 2022.

The week includes a special race meet across all three codes to raise money for breast cancer research, with the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club hosting their meeting on Thursday, September 14, before racing at Albion Park Harness Racing Club and the Gold Coast Turf Club on Saturday, September 16.

The Sunshine Coast Turf Club will also turn pink for its meeting on Sunday, September 17.

Pink Ribbon Cup founder Robyn Cameron said she was expecting another big turnout for Saturday’s Cup day, with over 800 people attending the official National Breast Cancer Foundation event, along with Fashions On The Field, raffles and auctions.

“The team and I, we get overwhelmed at times when we think of where we started in 2008 –  a big room full of many guests and we raised $20,000 and we were ecstatic…to where we are now in our 16th year and last year, we raised over $220,000 for breast cancer research,” Robyn said.

“There will be lots of pink and the men also really seem to get so enthusiastic about it, even some more so than the women and really vying for that Best Dressed Male.

“More importantly, it’s a very important cause – too many women are diagnosed with breast cancer and while I’m talking to you now a woman has been told ‘you’ve got breast cancer.’

“The downside is that it’s not just the woman who is diagnosed – it’s that snowball effect, it’s the husband, the father, the grandma, the daughter and so it impacts all the family and their loved ones.

“It’s a day of fun, but it’s also about raising money for vital breast cancer research so please if you’ve got nothing on Saturday yet, come along!

“You’ll have a great day and I promise you it is a ball.”

Pink Ribbon founder Robyn Cameron (L) and breast cancer survivor Sarah Jolly.

A two-time breast cancer survivor, Robyn started raising money for breast cancer research back in 2007 before the inaugural Cup day in 2008.

It has since become one of the Gold Coast’s most popular events and Robyn says she was ecstatic to see the concept expand to the harness and greyhounds codes last year.

“Our first year back in 2008 was a great day and that’s what provided the motivation to keep going,” Robyn said.

“In year five, I met with one of the directors here at the Gold Coast Turf Club, and I said we really should turn this whole Turf Club pink and that’s what started the ball rolling for me.

“Not only does the whole Turf Club go pink now but last year thanks to Racing Queensland and Sky Racing, we now have Sky Racing Pink Ribbon Raceweek.

“It’s really coming together and ultimately we’ll have even more spots of pink happening around Queensland.”

The Pink Ribbon Cup honours went to Miss Divine Em in 2022, with Angela Jones piloting home the now-retired mare at Aquis Park.

Jones said holding out the fast-finishing Tara Jasmine with Tegan Harrison on board had been a true career highlight.

“It was a big thrill and I think it was the biggest race I’d won then to date,” Jones said.

“It led all the way and I was waiting to get run down and it kept going.

“It was really special to win that race and I think being a female to win it as well – a couple of us females have won it in the past few years which I think is quite special.

“Stephanie Thornton and Tegan Harrison have all won it quite recently, and Tegan actually quinellaed it with me last year.

“I remember she was gutted because I think the race has got a lot of meaning to her…but it is a special race and a little bit more special when a female can win it.”

With racing at the Gold Coast on the Polytrack this year, Jones won’t be defending her Pink Ribbon Cup crown.

Angela Jones after winning the 2022 Pink Ribbon Cup. (Photo: Michael McInally)

The 22-year-old will be riding at the Saturday metro meeting at Eagle Farm but is backing fellow apprentice Emily Lang to take out this year’s title on the Gold Coast.

“I think she’s an apprentice with a lot of talent and she always gets some good rides there at the poly,” Jones said.

“So if you want to put a few dollars on someone, I’m giving the tip to Emily Lang.”

Pink rugs, saddles, helmet caps and pink silks will all be on show across the three codes to raise awareness of the fight against breast cancer.

“I think it’s a really important cause, especially for women,” Jones said.

“It often goes unnoticed, and it’s a little bit of a subject that I think sometimes we keep quiet and it’s probably something that shouldn’t be kept quiet.

“I think the Pink Ribbon Cup is a good thing that shines a little bit of light on it in a good way and just gets people a little bit more aware.

“The fact that we wear the pink silks, it stands out and I think it’s not every day you see that.

“There’s a lot of pink on the day and I think half the crowd is wearing pink so I like how they do it all and it makes a statement.

“It’s always a good day out at the Gold Coast and if you’ve got something pink in your wardrobe throw it on and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed at all in the day.”

Breast cancer remains the most common cancer in Australia, with 57 women and men diagnosed every day – and one in seven women being diagnosed in their lifetime.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation’s goal is zero deaths from breast cancer by 2030. 

Swayzee after taking out last year's Pink Ribbon harness race at Albion Park.

By Andrew Smith