Giddy Up! It’s time for the Cromwell Christmas Races
Framed by the Pisa Range, the Cromwell Racecourse is perhaps the most scenic horse racing venue in New Zealand. On the 29th November 2015, thundering hooves will once be heard on site as the Otago Racing Club hosts the annual Cromwell Christmas Races. With over 8,000 people coming to town, this event is pegged as one of the best Christmas staff parties Central has on offer.
As the oldest racecourse in Central Otago, Cromwell harks back to an era when Wanaka, Queenstown and even the Cardrona valley their own track. ‘Gallops’ have been held here for over 150 years, and up to five generations of race goers have stood trackside - the suspicion that the weatherboard stands whisper history is not unfounded!
Charlotte Neilson, the Event Co-Ordinator explains how the race day, with the stands and corporate marquis, hung with Christmas themed ornaments is a racing institution in its own right. She believes that the race days hinges on the social atmosphere, with crowds of people returning year after year. “It all seems to be a bit more relaxed in Central. Everyone is there for a good day out and it’s definitely a key event on the racing calendar as people travel all over the South Island to be there,” explains Neilson.
The key races are the Queenstown Cup, sponsored by AWS Legal and the Wanaka Cup. Other races have been sponsored by local Cromwell businesses including Duncan Anderson Dental, Misha’s Vineyard and Cromwell Transport. For something a little different you can even bet on a flock of scurrying sheep.
Exactly which horses and jockeys will be racing won’t be announced until three days before the event. However, as the maxim prize money is $40,000 for first place and given that there will be two open handicap races (this means horses that haven’t raced before can compete for sizeable prize money) you can guarantee that the top names will be there.
For some the highlight of the day won’t have anything to do with thoroughbred horses, as the “Fashions on the Field” events are another big drawcard. This year's theme is "Animal" so everyone from the youngun's in their onesies, to the adults with a feather in their cap, can strut their stuff, hoot at the winners, growl at the losers and generally get in touch with their "inner animal". The team from Dunedin’s Refined Rig will be judging this year’s best-dressed competition and there are three large goody bags valued at $2000 up for grabs, along with a number of decadent spot prizes.
If guests get hungry there will be an array of food vendor’s onsite, alongside market stalls and an abundance of activities to keep the younger family members entertained. That is if they like bouncing castle, go karts and oversized games like chess and Jenga
Unfortunately, the corporate marquees were booked out months ago; however, if you want to try for a last minute cancellation contact Charlotte Nielson at email firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, adult entry is $15 and there are plenty of spaces to park a picnic rug or folding chair along the rails. All you need to do is put the 29th November 2015 in your calendar and go enjoy the sun-drenched community atmosphere at the Cromwell Christmas Races. For more information to: www.theraces.co.nz.