When thousands of people descended on Tauranga Racecourse for one of the biggest races of the season yesterday, Grant Edwards did not realise he would be one of them - let alone wearing a dress.

Mr Edwards was taken to the Interislander Summer Festival races in Greerton by friends and family to celebrate his stag party, ahead of his wedding in three week's time.

''I had no idea this was going to happen,'' he said.

''I go to the races about once a year, and usually try to go for the second favourite [horse].''

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Mr Edwards said he had no idea of the day's events and was simply going with whatever his friends threw at him, including an old girl's school uniform.

Horses and jockeys do battle in race two of the Interislander Summer Festival races in Greerton. Photo/George Novak
Horses and jockeys do battle in race two of the Interislander Summer Festival races in Greerton. Photo/George Novak

One of Mr Edwards' friends said the online purchase of the uniform was perfect, since Mr Edwards was a teacher.

''It's pretty comfortable,'' Mr Edwards said.

Among the large crowd were many families, including English woman Polly Hall, her brother, his wife and their toddler Olive.

''I'm really looking forward to the day,'' Ms Hall said as the races got underway.

''I'm just going to pick horses by numbers or with what Olive picks.''

Ms Hall flew over from Britain to surprise her brother Giles in Christchurch for Christmas. The siblings then travelled to Tauranga for the holidays to spend time with more family.

Ms Hall said it was good to be able to spend the day with family at an event such as the Tauranga races.