Drunken debauchery is par for the course at Australia's Melbourne Cup, but across the ditch at our own Ellerslie racecourse, punters were well behaved, making the most of a sunny Auckland day at the races.

About seven thousand people attended, dressed in suits and fascinators to watch local horses race before English racehorse rekindling took home the Melbourne Cup, which was broadcast live.

Bellowing cheers came from the crowds as the thoroughbreds took off, with Kiwi punters' eyes glued to the big screen.

Fellow British racehorse Marmelo had been the favourite to win this year, with one Australian betting site offering odds of $6.50 online.


For Auckland Racing Club Voss Paul Wilcox, yesterday was his first big event and he said it was a great day.

Wilcox took on the CEO role four months ago.

"We're delighted with the turnout," he said.

Wilcox "absolutely" had bets on his favourites, Almandin and the Kiwi-bred Humidor and Cismontane.

He wouldn't say how much he had riding in them though - "Mum will kill me", he joked.

Fashion in the Fields winners Kellie Walker from Beachlands and Qasim Mohammad from Manukau at Ellerslie. Photo / Dean Purcell
Fashion in the Fields winners Kellie Walker from Beachlands and Qasim Mohammad from Manukau at Ellerslie. Photo / Dean Purcell

Ellerslie hospitality manager Craig Fenwick said everyone had been very well behaved.

"There's been no evictions, which is wonderful," he said.

Kiwi celebrations of the annual Melbourne Cup - the Australian race which stops the nation - were usually pretty tame, he said.

Punters the Herald spoke to were out for a good time, enjoying a light flutter on the horses and a glass or two of bubbles in the sun rather than a huge day out.

Newstalk ZB newsreader Bernadine Oliver Kerby was at the races with a group of friends, putting her "mum duties on hold" for the day.

It was heartening to see so many people off to the races on a week day, she said.

"It's lovely to see racing's alive and well."

No major race day would be complete without a fashion event, and yesterday two winners were crowned from a pool of seven deemed spiffily dressed enough to make the Fashion in the Field finals.

Auckland stylist Kellie Walker and Manurewa barber Qasim Mohammad were the winners on the day, taking home flowers, vouchers and a magnum of champagne.

In a return to tradition, Auckland Racing Club had hired a bugler to announce the start of each of the ten races throughout the day.

The club believed he was the first bugler hired to play the "call to post" live in thirty years - but urged anyone who can prove otherwise to get in touch.

McGough, dressed in a top hat and red jacket, was excited to take up the traditional role.

"I'm known as the trumpet guy," he said.

He plays gigs around the North Island and closed out the Rugby World Cup final in 1987, a performance which was broadcast to 3 million people.