The Christmas Carnival | In Numbers

24 Dec 2023
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing

The Christmas Carnival has headed south this season, with both the Boxing Day Races and New Year’s Day Races taking place at Pukekohe Park.

These iconic racedays are steeped in history and we’ve put a little spin on the ’12 days of Christmas’ ahead of the holidays to present to you… the Christmas Carnival in numbers.




Twenty Twenty-ONE:

Boxing Day 2021 marks the date Ashvin Goindasamy won his first Group race, taking out none other than the Group 1 Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic aboard Tiptronic.
“To win this is a dream come true. I can’t believe I am a Group 1 jockey.” Said Goindasamy after the win. ““When I went across the line, I was a little numb, but just so happy.”
“It hit me coming back to the birdcage and apart from the sense of relief, I was thinking about Mum and Dad and I just couldn’t stop crying. When I rang them after the races, they were ecstatic. Dad had watched the race live and was yelling all the way down the straight while Mum was crying as they know how much it means to me.” he told NZ Herald.


Ashvin Goindasamy taking out his first Group race here at Ellerslie


TWO Days:

Two days over one week. Consider your public holidays planned and get yourself down to Pukekohe Park on Tuesday 26th of December 2023 for the Boxing Day Races and Monday 1st of January 2024 for the New Year’s Day Races. Mark your calendars now!


One Hundred and Thirty-THREE:

The number of years the Group 1 Sistema Railway has been run. Inaugurated back in 1890, this race is steeped in history and this season’s edition at the New Year’s Day Races will see the 134th running.

Some of the biggest upsets in the history of the race were in 2009 when ‘Jacowils’ triumphed at odds of 104-1, and in 2011 when ‘Miss Raggedy Ann’ won the race as the 86-1 outsider.
Notable winners of the race include the great ‘Mr Tiz’ who won the race a record three times and more recently, Avantage took out the race in 2021. Diamond Lover holds the track record for the race who in 1987 ran it in just 1:07.73.


Twenty Twenty FOUR:

2024 marks the first time the previously-named Group 2 Royal Stakes will be run as the Sir Patrick Hogan Stakes.

With the passing of racing and breeding icon Sir Patrick Hogan last season, in acknowledgement of the immense impact Sir Patrick had on the industry, the race was recently renamed in his honour. The 3YO fillies 2050m race run on New Year’s Day at Pukekohe Park, once known as the Royal Stakes, is now to be known as the Sir Patrick Hogan Stakes in recognition of his significant contribution.

The great Sir Patrick Hogan


FIVE Times:

Both Opie Bosson and Lance O’Sullivan have claimed the Sistema Railway a whopping five times.

Bosson rode his first victory in the race back in 2004, subsequently taking it out in 2016 and then back-to-back in 2021, 2022 and the most recent running in 2023.

O’Sullivan first won his first Sistema Railway in 1986 followed by a win in the 1990, 1991, 1994 and 2003 editions. Four of his five wins were trained by his father, Dave, and brother, Paul, who trained in partnership, with his last winning ride trained by Kenny Rae.

5 cheers each for Opie and Lance!



SIX Wins:

Trainer Jamie Richards made New Zealand racing history in 2020, posting six wins, consecutive for that matter, at the Boxing Day Races. Dave O’Sullivan, held the previous Ellerslie record, also set on Boxing Day in 1993, when he trained five winners.

Richards’ six-timer started with Palamos’ victory in the SkyCity 1100 and the streak concluded with Amarelinha taking out the Eight Carat Classic. What a day at the office!

Jamie Richards now holds a New Zealand record that may never be matched


SEVEN-ty Years Ago:

Seventy years ago when the Queen attended…We saw 55,000 people oncourse at Ellerslie on one raceday in 1953 for one very special reason. The Boxing Day races were a stop on the Royal visit with the late Queen Elizabeth ll known as an avid horse lover.

The Noble Breed reports “Many stared at her fixedly as she chatted, studied her racebook and watched the horses. She made several visits to the birdcage and her knowledge and love of the horse were readily apparent from her observations.”

In keeping with Royal protocol, a lift was installed specially for her for that visit. Based behind the scenes in our Ascot Stand, it is still operational today and fondly referred to as ‘The Queen’s Lift’.


EIGHT Carat Classic:

The Hallmark Stud Eight Carat Classic is a set weight race for 3-year-olds held on Boxing Day. It is named after the legendary broodmare, Eight Carat.

Eight Carat won the New Zealand Broodmare of the Year a record-equaling three times from 1995 to 1997 due to the deeds of sons Octagonal and Mouawad. On top of this, in 1996 Eight Carat was named Broodmare of the Year by the international journal Owner-Breeder (USA). Eight Carat died in 2000, aged 25 at Sir Patrick Hogan’s (now Brendan Lindsay’s) Cambridge Stud. She is buried alongside Sir Tristram and Zabeel.


Twenty NINEteen:

The 2019 Boxing Day Races saw a different type of race on the card, an inflatable mascot race. Ever thought you’d see a clash of seven T-Rexes, two minions, one hippo, one Jabba the Hutt, a genie, a giant banana and the SkyCity mascot, neither did we… Who took out the race you ask? A mighty minion! Check out a snap from this *unique* race below.


A different type of racing taking place at Ellerslie


Twenty TEN:

The 2010/11 season’s Christmas Carnival saw apprentice jockey at the time, James McDonald, take out six races across the two days at Ellerslie.  McDonald was named as the ‘World’s Best Jockey’ for 2022 and we’d like to think the Big E was one of the breeding grounds for his success!


11 AM:

11 am is the gates opening time for both days of the carnival. Perfect timing to get suited and booted or to frock up and rock up for a day of great racing. Set those alarms now…



Number 12 ‘Synchronize’ won last year’s Listed Hallmark Stud Handicap on Boxing Day. It must have been lucky number 12 for the day, with a total of three of the day’s 10 races won with a #12 saddlecloth.

Craig Zackey was aboard Synchronize, with Michael McNab piloting #12 Novak for the first race of the day and apprentice Masa Hasizume victorious with #12 Thunder in the Barfoot & Thompson 1400.

What might be the lucky number for this year’s Christmas Carnival? You’ll have to get oncourse to find out!


#12 seemed to be the one to beat at last year’s Boxing Day Races



Learn more about the Boxing Day Races.

Learn more about the New Year’s Day Races.


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