One of the most important races at Ellerslie's Boxing Day meeting today won't contain any horses.

It will be the clash of seven T-Rexes, two minions, one hippo, one Jabba the Hutt, a genie, a giant banana and the Sky City mascot.

The inflatable mascot race will be undoubtedly hilarious but for the most serious of reasons.

It has been organised to raise awareness of the Bowel Cancer Foundation Trust, which helps those battling one of New Zealand's most deadly diseases.


About 1200 New Zealanders a year die from bowel cancer or its complications and the trust wants the Government to reduce the free screening age from 60 to 50.

To build support for that fight the trust needs awareness, so the huge crowd at one of New Zealand's great horse racing meetings today will witness the mascot race.

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Some of the runners were people whose families and lives have been touched by the horror of bowel cancer.

One of them is Warwick Mitchell, whose son Scotty was diagnosed with bowel cancer 13 months ago.

"It is one of those moments when you just go numb," says Mitchell.

"Scotty was diagnosed with stage four cancer and had an operation straight away and then six months of chemotherapy.

"He has been lucky to have a wonderful supportive partner in Kirsty to help him through this but we have also been lucky to have the people from the Bowel Cancer Foundation to support us as well. They have been amazing."

Scotty can't be at Ellerslie today as he and Kirsty are away travelling. "One of the things the doctor said to him was if you love travelling make sure you do, because stage four is very serious.


"But at the moment things are good with Scotty and we are hoping for the best."

So Dad will don his T-Rex suit for today's 150m race, just after 1.30pm.

"The suit is amazing, it has a little fan inside it to help inflate it but it isn't easy to run in because you have to take small steps, because T-Rexes have short legs," explains Warwick.

"I tried a few practice runs at home but my wife told me to be careful in case I fell in the pool."

Although today's huge crowd won't be able to bet on the T-Rex versus the Genie, they will have 10 horse races to work out, including the $200,000 Zabeel Classic, which is a group one — horse racing's elite level.

The Boxing Day meeting is one of the biggest events on the Auckland social calendar and also features the Hawaiian Airlines Fashion in the Field and the infield family zone for the little ones, which provides barbecue access for those looking for a more casual racing experience.

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