MEDIA RELEASE | Auckland Thoroughbred Racing given green light for racing to return to Ellerslie

11 Dec 2023
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing

Auckland Thoroughbred Racing (ATR) has today confirmed racing will resume at Ellerslie Racecourse on 14th January 2024 following a successful fourth and final phase of testing on its course proper today.

New Zealand’s premier thoroughbred racecourse has been undergoing a gradual ‘return to racing’ testing plan in conjunction with New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) over the past month of which today was the final phase.

Monday, 11 December (today) saw trials take place at Ellerslie with 60 horses galloping on the surface across 12 heats.  Senior jockeys, Opie Bosson, Craig Grylls and Joe Doyle were oncourse for the first time since the development.

“It’s a really quality track that was so needed here,” commented Joe Doyle.

“It rides brilliantly and the horses stay so balanced. It’s really good, I like it.”

Opie Bosson also had very favourable things to say about the track commenting, “It feels beautiful.  Nice and smooth and it’s a privilege to ride on it.

“There’s not one fault in the track at all and I’m looking forward to getting back here in January.”

NZTR’s Head of Licensing and Stakeholder Engagement, Matthew Williamson, was also oncourse gathering feedback from a range of stakeholders.

“It’s an incredible, incredible surface. I can’t speak highly enough of it.

“It’s been long awaited here in New Zealand and that $50million that’s been put into it has been well spent for the industry.

“Comments from Michael McNab were extremely favourable and comments from the RIB stewards were that it’s a consistent and brilliant surface.

“Given our tracks around the country can, from time to time, be challenging, the comment was that stakeholders will know exactly what they are riding out on to here at Ellerslie.

“As far as the track surface goes, feedback has been favourable from absolutely everybody and as far as NZTR is concerned, we’ll go through our process but the sign off today is very favourable.”

Auckland Thoroughbred Racing Chief Executive Officer Paul Wilcox says, “To say we are delighted is an understatement.

“This moment has been much anticipated by not only us here at ATR, but by the entire industry and I’m thrilled at the feedback we’ve received.

“We’re grateful to the support afforded to us by the senior jockeys, trainers and owners who’ve helped us with the all-important testing process and I know I’m not the only one who says they cannot wait to get back racing here in January.”

With the testing now complete, racing will commence at Ellerslie Racecourse on Sunday, 14 January with Summer Raceday ahead of the highly popular TAB Karaka Millions on Saturday, 27 January.


– Ends –

Major Partners