A strong field of six female jockeys will be among the line up for this year's Auckland Cup at Ellerslie, including current New Zealand Jockey Premiership leader ​Danielle Johnson.

The race has been rescheduled as a twilight event tomorrow night [Eds: Thursday] after severe weather meant last Saturday was a washout.

General admission to the race will now be free, and Auckland Racing Club chief executive Cameron George said all the food from the cancelled event has been donated to the Auckland City Mission.

Punters who missed out on Saturday are entitled to a full refund or the option to exchange tickets for tomorrow night's race.


Premiership leader Johnson, 25, will be riding Five To Midnight in the race, and she told the Herald she expects nothing less than first place on Thursday night.

"I want to win of course," she said.

She said the cancellation and rescheduling would have more of an impact on the trainers than the jockeys.

"It hasn't affected me but for the trainer they get up here on the Friday and they're expecting to be racing Saturday, but for me it's absolutely fine."

She doesn't expect a damp track to be much of a hindrance either.

"I think my horse is good through a reasonably wet track so I'm not concerned about that at all.

"He went well in the lead up race, had a month in between runs, so he's going to take a lot of improvement out of it."

Having finished second and third before and "missing out on the lollies", Johnson is keen to maintain her place at the top of the premiership standings.

"If I could win the premiership it'd be nice, we've still got a few wet months to go."

Close behind her in second place is Alysha Collett, who will be hoping to guide Nymph Monte to victory.

Alysha Collett will be riding Nymph Monte at the Auckland Cup on Thursday night.
Alysha Collett will be riding Nymph Monte at the Auckland Cup on Thursday night.

Collett told the Herald she hopes the skies remain clear ahead of the race.

"Just to be starting the race would be a good start, I just hope we don't get any more rain to affect the track too much," she said.

"I think my horse shouldn't mind it too much, it should actually enjoy a bit of moisture in the track, I'm looking forward to it. I've got a tricky gate but hopefully we'll be a good chance from there."

The 22-year-old is hoping to come in amongst the first six runners, and said the rescheduling has worked in her advantage.

"I've just taken it in my stride... it actually gives you a couple more days to have a good look at the field.

"I haven't ridden the horse since a race in Christchurch in November, so I got to ride it [Tuesday] morning and I was really happy with its work, it was a good opportunity to be able to ride it."

Ellerslie is her favourite track, and she hopes familiarity will pay dividends with a strong showing.

"I've done plenty of riding there, I'll know where to go," she said.

Collett said Kiwi female jockeys are "quite strong at the moment".

"I know that there's a lot more of us getting opportunities so it's really good. The strength of our female riders is increasing and we do get more rides now which is great."

Trainer Lisa Latta has two runners in the Auckland Cup - King Kamada and Five To Midnight - and said she's "excited" to have two horses in the pinnacle event on the Auckland racing calendar.

"Five To Midnight is a real up and coming staying type horse, he's got good form leading into it and he doesn't mind a bit of fire out of the track which obviously we're still going to get," she said.

"King Kamada had a much better race last start, he's been a bit disappointing this season but he did show a glimpse of his old form last start."

She expects Five To Midnight to "probably be the better of the two".

Having to readjust after last week's cancellation was a minor spanner in the works, Latta said.

"I'm based in Palmerston North so the horses travelled up to the Waikato Racing Club in Hamilton and they stayed there, obviously then we had to turn around and bring them back home.

"It doesn't seem to have hindered them, looking at them they travelled back well and they've eaten up the whole time through so they'll travel to Auckland on [Wednesday] morning and then up to Auckland on Thursday."

Latta said there was no difference between the talent of male and female jockeys in New Zealand.

"The girls are really holding their own now, they're really on a level playing field with the males."

Context box:
Thursday March 16 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