The racing gods were smiling at the Tauranga racecourse yesterday as perfect summer weather induced a crowd of nearly 6000 to take advantage of the excellent facilities at the Interislander Summer Festival, featuring the New World Summer Cup.
There was something for everyone, with the special children's area a huge hit with the kids, a popular relaxed party atmosphere on the lawn under gazebos, through to the more sophisticated surrounds of the members' bars and cocktails on the lawn.
There were plenty of thrills and spills on track as well.
Three horses fell in race four, with one of the jockeys, Jenny Whiteside, taken to hospital, and in the next race My Blossom Lady twice threw her jockey Troy Harris out of the saddle and began a merry chase with stewards and track staff before finally being safely tethered and withdrawn from the race.
The big crowd loved it. Racing Tauranga's sponsorship and marketing manager, Don Patterson, says the horse just got spooked and did not want to run.
"The thoroughbred is a super flighty animal," he said. "They will get spooked at the smallest thing. It just depends on how they are feeling that day. Obviously that horse didn't want to race today so it made its feelings quite clear."
The appearance of one of New Zealand's finest horses, Mosse, in the feature race, the New World Summer Cup, was expected to end in an easy sixth win in six starts for the four-year-old gelding who was balloted out of a start in the Railway Handicap at Ellerslie on New Year's Day.
But no one told Rough Odds he was playing a support role as he proved too much to run down in the home straight, as Mosse's jockey Jason Waddell left his sprint home too late.
"It is always a good drawcard when you have a horse that has won four, then five, then trying to make it six wins in a row," said Patterson.
"New Zealanders are crying out for champions and Mosse is looking like he could be the next one for us as far as racing is concerned.
"But Tauranga is quite often a leader's track and it is a big risk to let a horse get out in front like that. Sure he was confident enough that [Mosse] could catch him but the straight is not that long and he took the gamble and it didn't pay off.
"Rough Odds has been here for a few places in the past and jockey Leith Innes is not called Lethal Leith for nothing. I had the feeling, and the noise around the yard today was that Rough Odds was going to do it, and he did."
Patterson was pleased to see so many locals and visitors turn out for the raceday but he would like to see a more unified approach to promoting all the sporting events in the Tauranga area over the holiday period.
"Wouldn't it be good if we all got together and marketed ourselves together under the umbrella of something like Tauranga Summer Carnival?
"We know that event marketing draws visitors to town so when you put together our raceday, the cricket, the speedway, the sevens, the Port of Tauranga Half, all the events at the Mount, and the food and wine festival, then it makes a real attractive package."