Thousands turn out at Alexandra Park as the week of festivities fires up

Several thousand harness racing fans turned out last night at Alexandra Park for the first 10 races kicking off the Auckland Cup Week carnival that also runs across thoroughbred and greyhound codes until next Saturday.

Alexandra Park sales and marketing director Kim Algie said all the elements of the evening came together well.

"There's a lot more people attending and a wider demographic of racing fans which is a highlight," she said.

Models prowled the catwalk for two showings of Kiwi designer Annah Stretton's current season and Annah in Wonderland range which were a highlight for many race goers as was the rock, dub, R&B and reggae fusion performance by Sons of Zion.


Between races the future generation of drivers - some as young as 10 - raced for ribbons and bragging rights in the Kidz Kartz competitions.

Today the action continues with the New Zealand Derby Day at Ellerslie Racecourse.

The best of the country's thoroughbred racing, raceday fashion and hospitality action is due to begin from mid-morning, with the first race starting just after midday.

Racegoers at Ellerslie are advised not to miss the $750,000 TV3 NZ Derby, race nine, nor the announcement of the national raceday fashion final Prix de Fashion after race six.

Race nine's favourite, Puccini, is paying $3.20 to win but eyes will also be on Rising Romance, who comes from the same bloodline and trainer as last year's winner, Habibi.

Trained by Ruakaka's Donna Logan, Rising Romance is paying $4 as second favourite, but is tipped by many as the one to watch in today's race.

Mrs Logan said the filly's progress to the starting gates today has mirrored that of her half-sister, Habibi, conqueror of last year's threat, Castlzeberg.

"They are from the same sire, Eaker, and they're just about parallel the way they have come through with their racing, it's been really incredible," she said.

Off the track, another raceday drawcard will be the Prix de Fashion event where dozens of fashionistas will compete for the winner-takes-all title of New Zealand's best-dressed racegoer and more than $30,000 in prizes.

Derby Day

TV3 Derby Day at Ellerslie Racecourse

• Gates open 10.30am, first race 12.20pm.
• General admission $20, free for children under 15 and Bruce Springsteen ticket holders.

Don't miss

• The $750,000 TV3 NZ Derby, race 9 at 5.16pm.
• The national raceday fashion final, Prix de Fashion, winner announcement at 3.30pm.
• Federal Food in the Field - eats from The Grill by Sean Connolly and Peter Gordon's Bellota.
• Picnic & Ponies family area with free children's entertainment.
• Full details here

- Read also: Taking a ride in the driver's seat