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Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall Touch Down in Melbourne

This year, the off-track action during the week-long Melbourne Cup Carnival promises to attract as much attention as the Cup itself.

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CUP ACTION: They call it the race that stops a nation. But this year, the off-track action during the week-long Melbourne Cup Carnival promises to attract as much attention as the Cup itself — the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest racing event and, with a 6.2 million Australian dollar prize purse ($6.4 million at current exchange), one of the richest turf races in the world.

As part of their whirlwind six-day, five-state Diamond Jubilee visit, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall are due to touch down at Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday, with Camilla to present the Melbourne Cup to the winner and the Prince of Wales to present the trophy for the following, far less well-known race, the Diamond Jubilee Plate.

Before then, Saturday’s Derby Day, the first of the carnival’s four race days, will see the arrival of some Hollywood and fashion royalty in the form of Nicole Kidman and Roberto Cavalli, the latter fresh from the launch of his capsule collection for Target Australia in Sydney on Wednesday. Kim Cattrall and androgynous Australian model Andrej Pejic will hit the corporate marquees in Flemington’s famous “Birdcage” enclosure on Thursday’s Oaks Day — with Pejic promising to arrive wearing an homage to the infamous Philip Treacy hat worn by Princess Beatrice to the royal wedding in April last year. Treacy himself, who was recently appointed the Victoria Racing Club’s International Style Ambassador for this year’s carnival, will be on hand to give Pejic notes on his effort.

Other celebrities expected to mill around throughout the week include Rose Byrne, Ashley Madekwe of “Revenge,” Mischa Barton, Taylor Armstrong of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and U.K. music stars Brian McFadden and Rick Astley.