Walk the Course | Great Northern Day 2019

You're invited to join jumps jockey legends, Michelle Strawbridge, (nee Hopkins) & Wayne Hillis here at Ellerslie this Saturday (7 September) for a spot of morning tea in our brand new Tote on Ascot room, followed by stroll around our world-famous steeplechase track.

  • 9.00am - Meet in Tote on Ascot (adjacent to the tie-up stalls) for complimentary morning tea

  • 9.30am - Walk around the course with Michelle & Wayne (allow one hour)

  • 10.30am - Racecourse gates open for Great Northern Day where the 135th Network Visuals Great Northern Steeplechase and Boutique Body Corporates Great Northern Hurdle races will be run

This is an open invite and free for anyone to attend however, to help with catering requirements and to ensure we can keep you updated with any further event information, we'd love for you to RSVP here.

If you have any questions about the event, please contact Craig Baker via or 09 524 4069.


A little more about Michelle & Wayne...

These names should be familiar to many, with the jockeys producing the first-ever dead heat in the Great Northern Steeplechase in 2001 - Wayne aboard Sir Avion and Michelle on Smart Hunter.

Wayne Hillis, who first rode over jumps in 1978, had a career that saw him have 1,170 jumping rides in New Zealand - making him one of only a handful of jockeys to reach the 1000 ride mark.

Recording the most wins by any jumps jockey in 1988 (13), his 145 wins puts him eighth on the all-time New Zealand list.

He had 33 wins at Ellerslie from 1983 until his retirement in 2002, of which 16 were steeplechases.

His other Great Northern Steeplechase win was in his boom year of 1988 when he steered Heddawin to victory.

Michelle Strawbridge (nee Hopkins) had 117 jumping wins in New Zealand, a record for a woman rider and an achievement that put her 20th on the country's overall list.

Of those wins, 103 were for Ann and Ken Browne & 41 were at Ellerslie.

2001 was a big year for the jock and Smart Hunter - just two days prior to the Great Northern Steeplechase they won the Great Northern Hurdle (a race Sir Avion won in 1998) - which, when combined with her dead heat in the steeples, saw her become the first woman to complete the famous jumps double.

Following her 2001 Great Northern Steeplechase win, Michelle won the big race again in 2004 aboard Wanderlust.


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