A bumper crowd of over 14,000 was counted at 2.30pm, with numbers still growing after that time – making it the biggest day on Ellerslie’s calendar in recent years and, most likely, one of the world’s biggest racing events of 2020.
Paul Wilcox, CEO of Auckland Racing Club, was over the moon with how the day panned out.
“After a long and quiet winter, it’s brilliant to see Auckland come back to life in time for summer.
“For us at Ellerslie, to be able to welcome Aucklanders back to one of their favourite events has been quite the thrill and we were blown away by their support today. With pre-sales sitting 30% ahead of where they were last year and all hospitality precincts sold out ahead of the day, this is one of the biggest crowds seen at our SkyCity Boxing Day Races in almost 12 years.
“It’s been marvellous too to see the sun come out for this iconic day of racing, fashion and entertainment.”
The most colourful racing fashion event in the country, the Fashions in the Field competition, also took place today. The Best Dressed Woman and Man were Soraya Gurney and Peter Coleman respectively, each winning some fantastic prizes.
Fashions in the Field judge and Auckland Racing Club Ambassador, Carena West says; “The calibre in today’s Fashions in the Field competition was incredible. It was awesome to see the contestants showing true individuality and getting really creative with their outfits.”
Soraya Gurney, Fashions in the Field Best Dressed Woman, says; “It was an amazing surprise to be announced as the Best Dressed Woman at today’s SkyCity Boxing Day Races. It has been a fantastic day of fashion and racing and I can’t wait for The Ned Prix de Fashion in March.”
Peter Coleman, Fashions in the Field Best Dressed Man, says; “It has been a lovely day spent at Ellerslie today, and it was a great surprise to win Best Dressed Man for a second time, having won the last time the Derby was held on Boxing Day in 2004!”
Paul Wilcox says; “My congratulations go to Soraya and Peter, the winners of this year’s Fashions in the Field competition. An event that most definitely adds a pop of colour to the raceday, it’s always hotly-contested and they should both be commended on their fine efforts.
“For many of us though, the real action is out on the track and the highest of praise must go to Concert Hall and his connections, including jockey Vinnie Colgan, owner Mrs J L Egan, trainers Roger James and Robert Wellwood, and strapper Ikuko Kitamura, for taking out the Group I Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic in such a strong fashion.
“I would also like to acknowledge Te Akau Racing – in particular David Ellis and his stable’s NZ-based trainer, Jamie Richards, who won six out of the day’s ten races. We’ve checked with a number of sources who have said this is a feat they’ve not seen achieved on a premier day here in their lifetime, so it could even be an Ellerslie record. Either way, it is a very rare feat!
“We now get a few days ‘rest’ before we welcome in 2021 with the family-friendly SkyCity New Year’s Day Races and I can’t wait to bring it on.”