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The only A-Z you'll need to read this year

Our summer of racing is so close we can almost smell the Birdcage's roses...


Of course, while it may be a little too soon to have sussed the outfit(s), it's never too late to get on with all the other fun things that come with a bustling season of racewear and racing.

Today we're helping you kick-start that planning with our A-Z of all things summer racing at Ellerslie.

A | Auckland Cup Week®

An event needing no introduction - Auckland Cup Week® - is getting set to showcase the best of the best this 5 & 12 March. From the horses & their connections vying for some of racing's biggest spoils, to the fashionistas seeking racewear glory - it's all on show at New Zealand's richest and most glamorous week of racing.

B | Blow wave

An essential to ensure your hair stays in the same place all day, particularly when Auckland really can have four seasons in one day. The placement of your headwear can be as unpredictable as the weather, so booking an up-do or sleek blowout is a necessity for tresses that will go the distance. If you can't get into your usual hairdresser, then we'd suggest Dry & Tea who have three convenient locations across the city and a great menu of looks to pick from. Remember too that if you're wearing a headpiece with an elastic band – that the band is not a chin strap and instead should be HIDDEN in your hair around the nap of your neck. Use some bobby pins to hold it in place if need be, and a bun, up-do or pony-tail also go a long way in helping 'anchor' it in.

C | Champagne

You can't help but have a spectacular start to your raceday when many of our precincts offering sparkling wine or champagne on arrival or as part of its inclusions.

If sparkling wine's your go-to then you'll be pleased to know we've got the country's most popular brand, Lindauer, available and if French champagne is more to your liking then you'll be very happy to see Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial (and Rosé), along with Veuve Clicquot and Dom Pérignon, on the list.


D | Dress

Possibly the most important thing many of you are going to need for a day at the races. Whether it's a one-hit-wonder you get just for the races (and then loan to a friend or donate to an op-shop... sustainable shopping for the win!), an investment piece that can do double duty during the summer party season or a custom-made creation to woe the fashions in the field judges, avoid any undue stress and get started on the hunt for one straight after you've finished reading this!

Working out what to wear to the races is all part of the fun
Working out what to wear to the races is all part of the fun

E | Earlybird

The past few seasons have seen hospitality precincts sell out in advance across all of the summer's big racedays and our hospitality team sounding like a stuck record telling people they've missed out. If there's one thing you can learn this summer, it's that the earlybird gets the tickets (and the preferential pricing too!). You can check out our event calendar now if you want to.

F | Facial

Not only is a facial the ultimate in rest and relaxation, but it's a great way to prep your skin for a long day outdoors in makeup. The Facialist, Mecca and Loft Skin + Beauty are all great spots around Auckland to get that skin cleansed, toned and beautiful in time for raceday.

G | Gallops

There's a few types of racing in New Zealand but when you come to the races at Ellerslie, you're, in colloquial terms, "off to the gallops". This is because we're the home of thoroughbred racing and thoroughbreds (the breed of horses that compete here) race at a gallop, as opposed to a trot, a pace or anything else you've seen doing the rounds on the 'net.

"Off to the gallops"
"Off to the gallops"

H | Headwear

Whether it's a hat, a headpiece, a bow or something completely different – these are the races and so yes, you can and definitely should be putting something on your head. A hat (or equivalent) can definitely help finish an outfit, transforming it into racewear and helping you turn heads oncourse. Hats need not be expensive either – plenty of chain stores offer reasonably-priced headpieces to suit all variety of outfits and a lot of local milliners also stock a ready-to-wear range too.


If you're wanting to go all-out, then book in with a reputable milliner well in advance of the event and make the most of what's an enjoyable process working with them to get something custom-made. We're loving local talents Belinda Green, Monika Neuhauser, Claire Hahn and, for a kiwi off-shore, we're always going to Millinery Jill who conveniently ships to New Zealand.

 A hat (or equivalent) can definitely help finish an outfit, transforming it into racewear and helping you turn heads at the races
A hat (or equivalent) can definitely help finish an outfit, transforming it into racewear and helping you turn heads at the races

I | Inclusive

Did you know that our sport is gender and age inclusive? Women and men ride against each other on equal terms, and male and female horses can race against each other too. Further, jockeys of all ages ride in the same races. In fact, there's even been cases of parents racing against their children, like this one!


J | Jitters

Entering a fashions in the field (FITF) competition for the first time?

First-time jitters are all-but guaranteed BUT – thanks to the great little community of people who enter such competitions - you'll soon find that those nerves will be taken over by a mini endorphin rush, and next thing you know, you'll be hooked! #FITFforlife

K | King

Ring-a-ding-ding Mickey's still the king.

Michael Coleman jockey at Ellerslie Racecourse
"The King" himself

Even if Michael Coleman has retired from his career as a jockey, the self-anointed King is still a king of our hearts (and we hear some ladies' as well, wink wink nudge nudge).


L | Love Racing

We get it, you love racedays – but Love Racing is also the name of our sport's industry body. Their website contains a wealth of racing information – from a full event calendar, to race fields, details on horse welfare and more – it's a great source of information, particularly if you can't find something on our website!

M | Make-up

The war paint of many a person; on raceday you want a fresh daywear vibe that will last a full (usually warm) day and possibly even night. Our suggestion for an effortless statement look that ticks those boxes is to opt for a fresh base with a bold lip that can be easily retouched. Not great at remembering touch-ups? The daywear vibe of a raceday makes a neutral lip just the thing too! A primer or setting spray is your friend and don't forget to book in well in advance if you're wanting to get it done professionally.

N | Nails

With all the champagne flutes you'll be seen holding for the 'gram, you want to make sure those hands of yours are looking good and those toes are putting your best foot forward. The team at The Art of Nails will help you out with something to suit your outfit, and ensure you're not rocking any tacky talons.

O | Ocean Billy

This utterly gorgeous, rangy chestnut horse was the victor in March's $500,000 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup and he couldn't have been a more deserving winner.

There wasn't a dry eye in the house when his owner-trainer-breeder Bill Pomare told the TV crews oncourse that “for me, a Maori boy who came out of nowhere, who slept under bridges and in cars, to suddenly have an Auckland Cup winner is incredible,” Pomare said. “This is the dream race to win." Aww!

P | Prix de Fashion

New Zealand's racewear final, The Ned Prix de Fashion is the most coveted fashions in the field title in the country.

While many will say it's all about the sash & bragging the winner receives, others will enter for the fact there's a $15,000+ winner-takes-all prize package on offer. Whatever the reason, there's plenty of opportunities to make the regional final of this competition with Auckland's first chance happening with the Style Spotter competition here on Jarden Melbourne Cup Day, Tuesday 2 November.

Q | Quinella

A quinella is a great bet to take when there's a few horses in a race (look for races with 10+ horses) and you can't quite decide which horse will win:

  • For $1 you can pick two horses to run 1st and 2nd in any order

  • For $3 you can pick three horses to run 1st and 2nd in any order

  • For $6 you can pick four horses to run 1st and 2nd in any order

You'll likely get more dollars back in your pocket if your quinella bet is successful than you would if you'd just picked the same horses for a win or place bet. Learn more about placing a bet with the TAB.

R | Rocket Spade

The winner of a desperate three-way finish in the time-honoured $1,000,000 Vodafone New Zealand Derby here in March 2021, Rocket Spade went on to win our Ellerslie Horse of the Year title at our Awards Raceday.

Trained by Lance O'Sullivan and Andrew Scott, the horse gave O'Sullivan his first win in the Derby as a trainer (he won it as a jockey twice) and jockey Craig Grylls' second win of the blue-riband feature.

  • The next running of this massive race is happening on Vodafone Derby Day, 5 March 2022


S | Shoes

You need to wear these babies ALL DAY (no exceptions!), so make sure whatever you wear is comfortable enough you can actually spend the whole day in them (you don't want to be that person who's seen walking out holding their shoes, trust us). If in doubt, get yourself a nude heel which will go with everything (and help give off the illusion of longer pins), but remember that a statement heel does wonders in making an outfit pop.

T | Tanning

While the pale and interesting look works for some, a nice all over glow is better for others. Steer clear of anything in the vicinity of orange and for a go-to at-home tan, we've been Bondi Sands fans since waaay back. Use it and expect to have fellow racegoers get jealous in thinking you've just come back from the islands.

U | Unparalleled

Te Akau Racing are the only training stable to have won the $1,000,000 Karaka Million 2YO five times, and it's been in consecutive years too! Keep an eye on the tangerine in 2022's edition where the stable will more than likely be out to make history (again) with a six-peat.

V | Vehicle

Getting to the racecourse (and home again!) in one piece is paramount. If you plan to enjoy a drink, or several, either order yourself an Auckland Co-op Taxi or consider taking the train. Greenlane Station is a short 600m walk away from the course which is most definitely do-able – even if just for those of you not planning on wearing heels. Otherwise, drive sober to the racecourse, park it for free and, if you do decide to partake in a Stella Artois, Leefield Station or similar, leave your car here overnight (at your own risk!) and collect the following morning.

WIN! | Buy a ticket to the 2021/22 season at Ellerslie before 1 September and you and five friends could be arriving at the races in style
WIN! | Buy a ticket to the 2021/22 season at Ellerslie before 1 September and you and five friends could be arriving at the races in style
Don't forget that any ticket (or tickets!) that's purchased to the 2021/22 season before 1 September 2021 gets the purchaser in the draw to WING their way to the races.

One lucky racegoer and up to five friends will get flown to the races here at Ellerslie in a helicopter, collected from the landing spot by golf cart and taken straight to the gate of their precinct - VIP or what?! (Terms and conditions apply).


Use the promo code FLY when purchasing your ticket to go in the draw

W | What to wear!?

If you're not sure where to start when it comes to working out what to wear to the races, then there's a few simple rules to go by:

  • Racewear is daywear, not evening, festival or gig wear. Leave the sequins, the mini skirts and the crop tops at home and think My Fair Lady with a modern day spin

  • If in doubt, keep your dress or skirt length at or below knee level

  • A hat is an easy way to transform most outfits into racewear (plus they're fun to wear and add a little something different to your gram's grid)

  • Necklines can be interesting, but again – keep them respectable

If you're not sure where to start when it comes to working out what to wear to the races, then there's a few simple rules to go by.
If you're not sure where to start when it comes to working out what to wear to the races, then there's a few simple rules to go by.

Despite what may sound like old fashioned guidelines, you'd be amazed at the incredible looks the fashions in the field pros can pull-off. Like anything in fashion, it's all about interpretation so it's time to get creative and have some fun with it! (And if you want to check out the dress code, you can do so here).

X | Xmas

The end of year is a favourite time for many a racegoer. Why, you ask? Well there's pretty much something for everyone here at racing H/Q - from our Christmas at the Races-themed days in late November / early December that are popular for work parties, to the epic night out that is the Barfoot & Thompson Twilight Races, through to the SkyCity Christmas Carnival with top-notch racing, a dose of fashion, a spoonful of music, hospitality and all the family fun you could ask for. She's hectic alright!

Y | Yearling

Did you know that as a part of the race conditions, any horse entering the $1,000,000 Karaka Million 2YO race must have been sold as a yearling at New Zealand Bloodstock's National Yearling Sale in January the year prior? Further, those horses entering the $1,000,000 Karaka Million 3YO Classic must have also been sold through the ring as a yearling, only that would have happened two years prior given those horses are three-year-olds.

Z | Zabeel (Classic)

If there's one race you should know about at the SkyCity Boxing Day Races it's the big one – the Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic. Raced over 2000m for $200,000 (the winner gets $108,000 of that), it's also got Group I status meaning any horse that wins it adds some valuable 'black type' to its pedigree.

Concert Hall and Vinnie Colgan return to scale after their win in the 2020 Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic
Concert Hall and Vinnie Colgan return to scale after their win in the 2020 Cambridge Stud Zabeel Classic
For your chance to get amongst these A-Zs and have the time of your life doing so, check out our event calendar now

WING YOUR WAY RACING


Don't forget that any ticket (or tickets!) that's purchased to the 2021/22 season before 1 September 2021 gets the purchaser in the draw to WING their way to the races.


One lucky racegoer and up to five friends will get flown to the races here at Ellerslie in a helicopter, collected from the landing spot by golf cart and taken straight to the gate of their precinct - VIP or what?!


Use the promo code FLY when purchasing your ticket to go in the draw


(Terms and conditions apply).