Racing: Museum in the home straight

It has taken 166 years to honour the thoroughbred in New Zealand, but we are almost there.

Wendy Pye, chairman of the New Zealand Champions Racing Museum Charitable Trust, this week unveiled the design of the proposed museum, to be built at Ellerslie.

The first thoroughbred landed in New Zealand in 1840 and the history of the industry that now adds about $1 billion to the gross national product each year will be highlighted in the museum, which is due to open in 2008.

Funding of about $400,000 has already been received.

Another $4 million is being sought to complete the project. Construction is expected to start Project support has been provided by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing and the New Zealand Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

A detailed model places the building within its setting, to the right of the main racecourse entrance, overlooking the Lawn Gardens and facing the Ellerslie Convention Centre.

"The trust's vision for the museum is about celebrating the extraordinary history of thoroughbred racing in New Zealand," Mrs Pye said.

"A national racing museum will allow us to share treasures and stories that will otherwise be lost or forgotten.

"We also aim to use that rich heritage to create a world-class interactive experience for local and international visitors, a centre for equine research and education, and a welcoming gateway for participation in every part of the thoroughbred industry."

Mrs Pye said the design of the museum exterior included elements of traditional stables but the interior would be that of a modern, interactive museum.

The main exhibition area on the ground floor would include many elements of the racecourse experience.

First floor displays would include a virtual race ride on an electronic horse, an equine science display, racing colours design and a permanent home for the recently established New Zealand Racing Hall of Fame.

Also included in the complex would be a cafe, research area and a movie and lecture theatre.

New Zealand's climate and environment proved to be perfect for breeding horses, with studs such as Trelawney and Cambridge adding to a national roll of honour that includes 41 Melbourne Cups.

Kiwi-bred champions Carbine and Phar Lap established a tradition of international excellence maintained into the modern era by the likes of Bonecrusher, Horlicks, Octagonal, Might And Power, Sunline and Starcraft.

Harness racing in New Zealand has a world class museum at Auckland's Alexandra Park.

- NZPA

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