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Princess Nicole all grace at the race

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Andrew Hornery and Mik Grigg

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Nicole Kidman arrives for Derby Day

Fairfax entertainment reporter Donna Demaio meets Nicole Kidman in the Birdcage at Flemington as Derby Day explodes in a fashion extravaganza.

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NO ONE does jet lag quite like Nicole Kidman.

The Oscar-winning actress arrived at Flemington on Saturday for the Derby Day races looking radiant and younger than her 45 years.

Nicole Kidman in the Birdcage at Derby Day, Flemington. Click for more photos

Derby Day Celebrities from the Birdcage

Sunday Age photographer Angela Wylie spends the day photographing the beautiful and the glamorous. Here is a selection of her images from the Birdcage at the AAMI Victoria Derby Day Races, Flemington. Photo: Shaney Balcombe

Channelling a combination of My Fair Lady's Eliza Doolittle and her latest role as Princess Grace of Monaco, the actress said she was managing her jet lag but that ''I'm really happy to be here. I do quite like the races and in previous years I have been to Randwick but never to Melbourne, so it was well worth the effort because it is a first for me.''

Kidman jetted into Australia on Thursday morning, spending several hours in her home town, Sydney, before taking a private jet to Melbourne on Thursday night. She is at Flemington with her parents, Antony and Janelle, while husband Keith Urban and daughters Sunday Rose and Faith remain in France where she has been shooting Grace of Monaco.

''I'm really trying to focus on being in the character, and trying to do justice to portraying such a fine lady. She really did epitomise her name,'' Kidman said.

Nicole Kidman and George Calomaris.

Nicole Kidman and George Calomaris. Photo: Angela Wylie

Wearing a figure-hugging white-lace knee-length dress by designer L'Wren Scott, who has dressed Kidman for years, the actor teamed the outfit with a wide-brimmed hat made from recycled plastic bottles by British milliner Stephen Jones.

Kidman was most definitely the star attraction at Flemington, mobbed by photographers before she had to leave the track and return to France to continue shooting Grace of Monaco.

Mingling with friends and family in the Swisse marquee, Kidman admitted she enjoyed having a punt but ''I'm really not very good at it, so I won't be expecting a big win today''.

To what, though, does Kidman credit her success … choice or chance? ''An enormous amount of chance,'' she said. ''But you've also got to be willing to work hard, and I think discipline is an important part.''

The Derby Day fashion met with her approval. ''I love the black-and-white theme,'' she said, ''that you have to work within boundaries.''

Actor Jessica McNamee acknowledged the role Kidman has played in paving the way for Australian actors in LA. ''She was really a pioneer for all of us in terms of going over there and really making it big,'' McNamee said.

''I'm meant to be shooting a film over here at the beginning of next year called Blood-Sucking Leeches and Flesh-Eating Maggots. It's not nearly as kitschy as it sounds; it's actually a really good script.''

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