All's fair in love and war at the racecourse but riders never take their work home.

Jockeys Opie Bosson and Danielle Johnson are partners at home - but not at work, where they regularly compete for victory.

The pair will line up against each other in six races at the Boxing Day races at Ellerslie. But whatever happens, the couple say they never take their work home with them.

Bosson, 32, and Johnson, 21, met through racing and have been together for about two years - more than enough time to get used to racing against each other.

"It's quite normal now," Johnson said. "You don't think anything of it, really. If we deck each other or something, it's work. And then after work, we're pretty sweet; we don't take it home."


And weighing in on racing day means the couple will sit down to their Christmas lunch a day early.

"We have our Christmas [today], with good food and everything," Bosson said. "Because you can't really eat a lot on Christmas Day; you've got to lose a bit of weight."

Bosson said that despite the sticky weather, he would spend much of the 25th in a sauna.

But not joining in the Christmas Day over-eating was a small sacrifice on the eve of one of the biggest dates on the racing calendar, he said.

The Boxing Day Races, which includes the $200,000 Zabeel Classic, is the beginning of the New Zealand Herald Christmas Carnival.

The day also features the Viva Fashions in the Field competition, and sand has been trucked in to trans-form the infield into a beach for cricket, barbecues and music.