While Melbourne experienced major train delays due to heavy weather, Hawke's Bay race enthusiasts placed their bets and seated themselves on polished bar stools sipping a cool beer.

About 100,000 people graced the sodden ground of Flemington Racecourse to watch the races, while Hawke's Bay locals ducked out of the evening sunshine to watch it from their screens.

About 400 people crammed into the vibrant atmosphere of Clubs Hastings to watch the horses burst from the gates as the first race took off at 5pm.

Attendees clinked champagne glasses, placed their bets and bantered over their predicted wins.

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Clubs Hastings chief executive Jackie Wells says the Melbourne Cup is far from fading in relevance in the region.

"We had 23 tables with about 10 people on each one, each table represents a horse and they've all placed their bets. We also have best-dressed competitions and a number of other activities throughout the evening."

The race was one by Cross Counter, with that happy table taking $1500 from the winnings.

Minki Sturgess was one of those winners and couldn't be more thrilled, describing the feeling as "amazing".

Kiwi feel-good story Who Shot Thebarman, the 10-year-old that was broken in in Waipukurau, finished 17th.