IT was wet and windy but that didn’t stop thousands of people from heading to the annual Ascot Park Christmas At The Races last weekend.
Despite the “weather bomb”, Southland Racing Club president Sean Bellew said the turnout was better than expected.
“I’m sad the weather is not ideal for them but the horses are winning and everybody is safe, everybody is having a hell of a good Christmas.”
The event was in its 14th year, with 12 years in a row of perfect sunshine, he said.
“2020 has been a hellish year, very unpredictable and its unpredictability has continued on into December.”
People had travelled as far away as Kaitaia for the races, and it warmed his heart to see so many people having fun.
Unlucky for him, his own horse did not do as well as hoped and finished third to last in its race.
“Not the ideal, but if you’re a hardened horse owner you know you lose more than you win.”
As for the other 119 horses, some had come from as far as Christchurch and Dunedin to race.
Watching them, were more than 6000 people.
Mr Bellew said it was a hay-making day for the club.
“We’re the largest metropolitan club in this region. I’m pretty proud of who we are and what we’ve done.”
In terms of popularity, it was the biggest social event in Southland.
All in all, it had been an outstanding day, he said.
It included both behaviour of attendees and the way they had dressed; those who went that extra mile entered the Fashion on the Field competition.
Those who wished to dress a little differently, entered the T-Rex race. Dinosaur heads, arms and tails flapped as the suited-up contestants raced down the track.
Shouts of “I can’t see” could be heard as they were shepherded to the start line, hands holding wind-blown visors in place.