The boss of the Auckland Racing Club is calling on employers to let staff ditch work early to attend the pinnacle event of the city's racing calendar.

Chief executive Cameron George told the Herald having to reschedule the Auckland Cup from Saturday to tonight after the weekend's big wet has cost the club "hundreds of thousands of dollars".

"It's certainly a big financial impact on us in the negatives," he said.

"We were expecting an event on Saturday with upwards of 15,000 people on course and we have a lot of partners that put a lot of time and energy into it.

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"Likewise for the club, a lot of preparation takes place in the months leading up to the day and then to have it washed away at the last minute is devastating for everyone concerned."

General admission to the twilight event at Ellerslie Racecourse is now free, and tickets for premium areas are at discounted prices, giving punters who otherwise may not have been able to a chance to access the more glamorous side of the races.

Those who purchased tickets to last weekend's races have been refunded, George said, and food from the cancelled event was donated to the Auckland City Mission.

"Everyone was inconvenienced by what happened on Saturday but it's no one's fault, it's just an unfortunate scenario."

"We just want to make it as easy as possible for Aucklanders to attend the race day tomorrow night."

"After a rough few days its one way we can show the public that we appreciate their support and on top of that we provided everyone with refunds who purchased tickets for Saturday."

George also issued a challenge to the bosses of Auckland, imploring them to let workers knock off early.

"Bring your team to the races, it's a free gate, have your team meeting here tomorrow afternoon," he said.

George, who is also on the board of directors for the Warriors, said weather was the "biggest" obstacle to overcome when putting on a sporting event in Auckland.

"For us it's all about the weather. We've got the best race track ... we're the best of the best. If we had good weather on Saturday we would've been packed to the rafters.

"That's our biggest challenge, both the Warriors and the Auckland Racing Club certainly have strong brands and very loyal supporters."

A patch of fine weather meant the track has "improved remarkably well", according to George, after torrential rain bombarded Auckland over the weekend.

"This is great drying out weather, it's really going to be a perfect night for racing."

Gates open at 2pm, with the first race - the Crombie Lockwood 1200m - scheduled for about 3.13pm, with the Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup taking place about 6.21pm.

Seven races will be run, with the last beginning at 6.59pm.

In addition to the racing, other entertainment will be on offer for punters who make their way to Ellerslie tonight, which will include Barfoot & Thompson ambassador and Silver Fern Maria Tutaia.

The Mumm Garden Party will feature Jupiter Project playing from 7pm-9pm after the races.

Perfomances will also be taking place at the Pop-up Globe theatre, which is in the racecourse gardens.

Place your bets

Fancy a flutter at the Auckland Cup? Chucking out the form guide and instead picking numbers and names which tickle your fancy may be the best way to win big, according to a TAB Trackside presenter.

Brendan Popplewell told the Herald previous results could count for nothing, as evidenced last year when $100 outsider El Soldado won the race.

El Soldado has since been scratched from the Cup and won't run tonight, but Chenille was one to look out for, according to Popplewell.

"Had this race been run on Saturday when it was supposed to be scheduled, Chenille would've been no chance really because the track would've been too wet for her but now there's been a few days' break in between.

"She's a benefactor of the race getting moved."

Popplewell said punters should go in with a clear idea of how much money they wanted to spend and stick to it.

"If it's $20 you've got to spend for the whole day, I'd suggest each way bets.

"If you have a dollar each way you've got a dollar to win, and a dollar to place so it gives you a chance to win some money, and those bets are good on horses that are paying about $5 to $10, you get a chance at winning some good money."

Going with your heart over your head was not as foolish a strategy as it may sound, according to Popplewell.

"Do what you feel is right. Pick out a favourite number or pick out a name that appeals to you, and also listen to some of the experts' selections."

El Soldado's outside win last year meant those looking to place a bet shouldn't be put off by any of the "roughies" in the field.

"There's always a thousand opinions on the race, but don't be put off by your horse that's paying $50 or $100, those roughies can win those races, we saw it last year," Popplewell said.

"Nobody picked him. There's actually no science to it... there are times when roughies win and it's unexplained, and that's when the novice can cash in.

"I'd never put anyone off having a bet on a roughie for the very first time."

Fashion hits and misses

You don't want to look as if you've come straight from the office. Show some flair. Photo / Richard Robinson
You don't want to look as if you've come straight from the office. Show some flair. Photo / Richard Robinson

Those stuck on what to wear to the Auckland Cup should embrace the chance to "break out a bit of colour and show some personality", according to a regular Fashions in the Field judge.

Janetta Mackay said both men and women should look to be expressive with their fashion choices at Ellerslie tonight.

"Smart daywear is the code, beyond that you can have a lot of fun.

"You don't want to look like you've come straight from the office, add a bit of colour."

Men should look to spice up their suits with a different hue, Mackay said.

"What's on trend is very much things like a blue-suit look, maybe break out some tan shoes and the coloured tie and the handkerchief, just kind of accessorise it and look well groomed.

"For women, really avoid looking like you're off to a cocktail party, that is not the look, so not too short, not too low-cut but you can certainly have a lot of fun.

"There's definitely a trend towards a longer length for women."

Mackay was at Flemington for last year's Melbourne Cup, and said bright colours were very popular there.

"Red for the women, but then the classics are always popular."

If the weather turns sour like it did on the weekend, Mackay said preparing in advance would help racegoers avoid any inconvenience.

"Serious fashion competitors will often have a backup outfit. Be prepared to have something that will suit a jacket, or a little wrap thrown over the top, but if you're in a marquee or the stand you won't have to worry too much.

"Avoid spiky heels, they're never good on wet grass.

"A great tip for anyone is make sure you're comfortable in your shoes and you're going to look as good at the end of the day as you will at the start."


Tonight at Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland

• General Admission is free
• Gates open at 2pm
• First race at approximately 3.13pm
• Auckland Cup race will take place at approximately 6.21pm
• Last race 6.59pm - after party afterwards from 7pm
• Hospitality open 2.30pm

Today's races

• Race 1 Crombie Lockwood 1200m 3.13pm
• Race 2 Ronald McDonald House Charities 1200m 3.48pm
• Race 3 Westbury Classic 4.28pm
• Race 4 Sistema Stakes 5.03pm
• Race 5 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes 5.41pm
• Race 6 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup 6.21pm
• Race 7 Swisse Wellness Trophy 6.59pm