For the diehard racegoer, like the man who tripped over a woman's stilettos in his mad dash to place a last minute bet on, the Black Opal was most definitely about the races.
But for others the track action was just an annoying interlude between the day's real competition – fashions on the field.
By 1pm 5000 people had streamed through the gates of Thoroughbred Park, but the crowd swelled to see Takedown take out the main event and Goulburn trainer Kurt Goldman enjoy the biggest victory of his career in winning the Canberra Cup with Faust.
With the "spectacular" day reaching a sunny top of 29 fashionistas baking in heavyweight autumn racing season fabric and three-piece suits may have looked somewhat enviously at the seasoned punters in their low-key get-up of T-shirts and shorts with pockets large enough for the form guide.
But for fashion-lovers, both male and female, the rule was "no pain, no gain" and Sunday was all about retro chic, elaborate headwear, hair buns and accessories.
The number of men in the classic race wear event was up on previous years and almost on par with the number of women, MC Sarah Kelly said, with more than 40 men strutting their stuff.
The millinery award, only featured at the Black Opal, was also popular with the work of many talented Canberra milliners on show.
"It's a resurgence in fashion full stop," Ms Kelly said of the larger than usual line-up.
"Men are becoming more fashion-savvy and more self-conscious of how they look."
Ms Kelly said the warm weather posed an added challenge for entrants who had to follow the strict rules of autumn season fashion (heavier weight fabric, longer hemlines, closed-toe shoes and chunky jewellery) while also dressing for the day.
Women were encouraged to leave the fascinators for the spring racing season and opt for more substantial headwear, a rule clearly embraced by the winner Alice Anderson who took out the classic women's race wear event for the second year running in an Alex Perry dress, gloves, and hat made to match by local milliner Cynthia Jones-Bryson.
"I'm tall anyway so I might as well be taller," she said of the standout hat that she admitted had her bending over to walk through doorways.
"Last year was the first time I entered and I've become addicted since. I've entered at Melbourne and Tasmania, you get hooked."
Brooke Strahan's "unique" tweed-inspired style saw her score second place followed by Melissa Billingham with her horse-shaped pink purse a hit with the judges.
Despite only moving to Canberra one month ago, Oliver Shepherd in his distinctive "Dick Van Dyke-style" cane hat, managed to pull together an ensemble worthy of third place and was planning to put his winning haul of gift cards towards new furniture.
While Jamie Bryce, fresh from a fashion win at the Yass races last month, took out second with his umbrella and gloves.
But both were pipped at the post by Joshua Burgess who accessorised his three-piece suit with a hat and binoculars.
The millinery award, also hotly contested, was won by Claudia Chappe de Leonval followed by runners-up Karen Coe and Jessica Adelan-Langford.