Everyone who works here at Ellerslie says it's like working with family, so it should also come as no surprise that we welcome families to all of our racedays - particularly so at the upcoming Auckland Cup Week ® 2020.
While our garden parties, Champagne Lawn marquees or Cuvée offerings may not be quite be a family's of tea at this major event; we have plenty of other things in store to keep the younger family members busy between races.
Today we've outlined just a few things - aside from the actual horse races - that will help keep everyone entertained at Auckland Cup Week ® 2020 - all of which are FREE for racegoers to enjoy.
Remember too that children under the age of 15 years get FREE general admission at all our racedays throughout the year and we offer senior citizen rates on general admission at the gate on the day.
We've also got earlybird* general admission ticket specials!
Wish our equine athletes the best of luck and glimpse a slice of history too
Back in 1913, the world's first automatic totalisator machine was operated at a race meeting – a meeting that was held here at Ellerslie Racecourse.
Designed by railway engineer Sir George Julius, the beautifully restored façade of what was the greatest single innovation which racing had known at that time now takes pride of place above our new stabling complex.
Opened in October 2018, the tie-up stalls provide you closer access to the day's equine athletes than ever before.
Over the course of your day, make sure to go for a wander through this world-class development and say "good luck" to the horses who have travelled from far and wide to compete.
Within the day's racebook you'll find a map of the facility which outlines where the public areas are – plus a list of which horse is in each stall. You'll see you can get the whole way around the stables to visit each and every horse that is racing.
Keep an eye out too for 'companions' that some horses often travel to the races with - it's not unusual to see ponies or older, retired racehorses that have also made the trip here to give their athletic friends some company.
Finally, make sure to look up at incredible tote 'centrepiece' which boasts of two clocks – one that tells the current time; the other that shows the time of the next race.
Get up close to MORE horses
What makes a day at the races different to most other sporting events is the horses – and we're keen to ensure everyone can get up close to these magnificent animals.
As you enter the racecourse, keep an eye out for crowd favourite 'Danny'.
Basing himself on the main entranceway for the first few hours of event opening, this cute little pony makes himself available for both pats and selfies with racegoers and has become a regular at our bigger events.
Wee Danny is always joined by a friend (or two) – some of which were racehorses themselves – and between them they're some of the most photographed (and patted!) fixtures on course.
Get up close to EVEN MORE horses, some cute animals AND enjoy some games & activities
A mobile barnyard is coming to both days of Auckland Cup Week® and with it, some adorable animals for free pats & cuddles, plus ponies that will kindly be offering younger family members free rides for most of the day.
Just remember though that these are real animals and it can be a long day out for them - so they will be taking breaks and, depending on crowd numbers, rides may be restricted to one per child and queues may be a reality.
The team from Kelly Sports will also be here over the week, putting on free organised games and activities for the younger ones.
We've also got a bouncy castle and some swingball sets in operation that can be enjoyed free of charge throughout the day.
Listen (and watch) our resident buglar play the 'Call To Post' (or the 'First Call') prior to the running of a race
Well-known trumpeter, John McGough, is our resident buglar and has become a popular fixture at our bigger racedays, recognised for both his smart attire (including top hat) and talent on the trumpet.
An old tradition that, up until a few years ago, had been lost at Ellerslie, the performance of this seven-or-so second call is to alert racegoers to the fact that horses are about to leave the Parade Ring and proceed through the Birdcage out onto the track.
Keep an eye out in the Birdcage about seven minutes prior to each race where you'll get to see this short and sharp performance in action.
Pay tribute to some champions
If the thought of getting up close to real horse is a little too much for the younger ones to handle, then make sure you stop to take a look at our impressive statue of famous kiwi racehorse, Bonecrusher.
Widely-regarded as one of the best racehorses ever to race in Australasia, the champion racehorse passed away in 2015, aged 32, and was buried at the site of his statue which is located just outside our administration office (the little brick building on your left as you walk through the main entrance).
Unveiled over Auckland Cup Week® a couple of years ago, the impressive bronze statue features the legend in action and includes his famous shoulder scar and unique protruding tongue.
A labour of time and love, artist Michelle Farrell initially made the statue out of clay before it was broken down into 26 pieces that were then cast in bronze at a foundry in Onehunga.
You can also check out a 'bust' of champion racehorse and NZ Racing Hall of Fame inductee, Sunline, who is also buried at the site of her memorial which is located close to our stables.
Sunline was the world's highest earning racemare of her time, competing on 48 occasions for 32 wins, 9 seconds and three thirds to earn A$11,351,607. She won races in three different countries, New Zealand, Australia and Hong Kong.
The great mare's legacy lives on to this day - she was the dam of four foals and, in 2011, became a grandmother for the first time.
PLUS we have some special past champions of the track coming along to help lead out the fields of some of the week's bigger races.
Included in that line-up is this handsome fella, Mufhasa.
This $3.62m-earning / two-time NZ Horse of the Year is now happily retired and spends his days looking after young racehorses, competing at shows and events, modelling in our campaigns, attending press photo shoots AND making appearances at our major racedays, including this year's Vodafone Derby Day (Saturday 29 February), where he'll lead out the field of horses competing in his namesake race - the Mufhasa FastTrack Stakes.
Quiet as a lamb at our photoshoots, Mufy (as he's affectionately known), absolutely LOVES coming along on racedays where he still thinks he's a racehorse... so don't be surprised if you're mislead into thinking he's still the king of the turf when he does an exhibition gallop here on 29 February.
Cheer on the runners in the Dunstan Feeds Auckland Clydesdale Cup (7 March)
Back by popular demand is this novelty race which takes place between the 'real' races on Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Day (7 March).
We always talk about hearing the thunder of the track when the thoroughbred horses race on it, so you can only imagine what you'll hear when these heavy weight horses charge down the home straight in a bid to win what will be the second running of this fun event!
Pick your favourite and cheer them on as they race to glory!
Pick who you think should be named the country's best dressed racegoer (29 February) and cheer them on!
Throughout the day, women will be taking to the fashion runway in a bid to catch the eye of the judges and win the $20,000+ prize package that includes bragging rights of being the country's best dressed racegoer for the 2019/20 racing season PLUS a trip to Melbourne to compete in Victoria Racing Club's MYER Fashions on the Field competition as part of the 2020 Melbourne Cup Carnival.
Men will be competing on the day too in the Hawaiian Airlines Menswear Award which will see one well-dressed guy fly home with 100,000 air miles from the competition sponsor.
The fashion competitions are free for racegoers to watch and cheering on your favourites is warmly-encouraged.
You may even like to give it a go yourself! Competition entry is free for all racegoers aged 18yr+ and, behind-the-scenes is a fun & supportive environment with competitors all helping each other out to ensure they look their raceday best.
Enjoy a family picnic on any of the outdoor, general admission lawns
While we do sell tickets into hospitality precincts, we also have plenty of public lawn space available for you to set up your own picnic on.
Picnic rugs, chairs, umbrellas and (personal use) gazebos are most welcome in these areas and you're able to bring your own picnic lunch and unopened, non-alcoholic beverages too (just no BYO alcohol as we are a licensed facility - you'll need to purchase those sorts of beverages from us).
If the thought of putting together a picnic lunch is too much, don't worry! We have food outlets you can purchase from too.
Check out the two days of Auckland Cup Week® 2020 and work out where you'd like to be.