Auckland Cup Day at Ellerslie - an owner's perspective

By Jill Lunn (Waikato/BOP President)

The reopening of Ellerslie Racecourse has been heralded with much fanfare and it was with interest I attended the Auckland Cup Day as an owner to see how the experience worked out. It was fantastic. The owners’ facilities were exceptional.

The recently refurbished Winning Post Lounge was open and available for owners. It is situated next to the alley where the horses and jockeys ride into the birdcage before the race. This area, which used to be rather dark, was light and airy and all along the side of the alley big glass windows have been installed so people in the room get an excellent view of the horses going by. 

In the middle of this area is a huge television screen that was showing five different views of the race, or other sports. I spoke with one of the team from Entain who installed the technology. There were other TVs around the room showing the Sky sports feed, but the big screen could be manipulated by a technician using an iPad to show close ups from some of the other cameras on course. There was a large team from Entain present to test out the technology to ensure it worked on the day.

The front of the Winning Post Lounge opens up to an outdoor area with tables and chairs. This area was fenced off from the birdcage and racehorse owners could lean over the fence to see their horses in the birdcage.

The parade ring and owners’ enclosure where the horses are previewed is the same as it was before. It’s a pleasant, relaxing area under the trees where the jockeys mount their horse.

The stalls and area for horses has been upgraded previously and this is an up-to-date facility for trainers, strappers and horses. There are even small pull-down seats for the strappers attached to each stall. Attention to detail has been a mark of the upgrade.

The old tote building has been turned into a light, airy, open, relaxing space for owners. Called Tote on Ascot, this large area is furnished with circular tables and chairs and there is a bar in the corner for refreshments. The end of the old tote nearest the horse stalls has been revamped with glass windows across the whole wall so, again, you can see the horses as they walk past back to their stalls. There are huge television screens that you can view the racing action on if you wish to stay and relax in this area.

Auckland Thoroughbred Racing also give owners tickets that enable them to get into the Ascot Stand if they wish to view the race from higher up.  I only went up the stairs for our specific race, as the vibe on the ground was fantastic and there was so much to see and so many places to be.

All in all, the various offerings for owners on raceday at Ellerslie ensure an extra level of buzz and excitement.

Mahrajaan, winner of the 2024 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup race - jockey Sam Weatherley, trainers Shaune Ritchie & Colm Murray (Photo: RaceImages)

Mahrajaan, winner of the 2024 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup race - jockey Sam Weatherley, trainers Shaune Ritchie & Colm Murray (Photo: RaceImages)