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PS Cup Day: Celebrity wrangling isn't what it used to be

The last time a Hollywood “It Girl” named Paris attended the Melbourne Cup, she ended up in a jacuzzi with a budding reality television star named Millsy.

That was 2003 and the world is a very different place in 2017, especially inside the Birdcage enclosure at this year’s Melbourne Cup, where the reigning celebrity appears to be the 19-year-old daughter of the late Michael Jackson.

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Things were decidedly looser back in the early noughties, as the strict rules governing Paris Jackson’s media “commitments” in Melbourne have proven.

Indeed, it’s who pays the most money that appears to gain greatest access.

Jackson has been flown to Melbourne as a VIP guest of Myer, and while embattled new chairman Garry Hounsell and chief executive Richard Umbers soak up the jovial atmosphere in their swish marquee, it is unclear just how much value for money they are getting out of Jackson, who is rumoured to have been paid $ 100,000 to turn up to the event she admits having never heard of just a few weeks ago.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten was also seen heading to the Myer marquee. 

Organisers the Victorian Racing Committee have banned any rival media outlets, including yours truly, from interviewing the teenager, as one of the event’s sponsors is the Murdoch press machine, which has already interviewed her around five times at last count.

Meanwhile it was a completely different demographic who were interested in seeing Jane Seymour, the one-time Bond girl that nobody has heard much of since she appeared in Dr Quinn Medicine Woman in the 1990s.

Seymour turned up in the Sensis tent, where another icon of eras past, Taylor Dane, was scheduled to perform for the VIP guests. 

Former supermodel Lara Stone was available for media interviews too, as guest of the Emirates Marquee, though reporters went cold when they were instructed to ask her a minimum of two questions about the airline. 

While Mick Jagger is nowhere to be seen, his little brother was a late entry at the Birdcage this year, with word spreading fast that Chris Jagger was to be a guest of the Lavazza marquee.

Jagger was in town having just performed at the Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival; not quite a Rolling Stones show at the MCG, but when celebs are thin on the ground, what does it matter?

Even Bec and Lleyton Hewitt experienced something of a flashback to their former celebrity status days, pounced on by photographers as they arrived at the Kennedy jewellers marquee.

Racing stalwarts Terry Biviano and Anthony Minichiello were again installed in the towering three-level Lexus Marquee, and also hosted Sydney PR queen Judi Hausmann, who was hosting the rival Mumm marquee directly opposite the Lexus pleasure palace, the champagne house having constructed its own yacht club turned discotheque complete with dancers and its own superyacht.

While behind the scenes the rivalry between the marquees is fierce, Hausmann had bought her tickets at a charity auction in Sydney assuring her entry. Her arrival at Lexus certainly created a frisson of corporate intrigue, though she was welcomed with open arms by Lexus’ marquee’s Grant Vandenberg.

​Indeed it was a display of bonhomie not often seen in the Birdcage.

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