Christchurch is looking forward to one of the major events on its social calendar — Cup and Show Week — following the worst year in the city’s history. While the September 4 and February 22 earthquakes and continuing run of aftershocks have left parts of Christchurch devastated, Cantabrians are gearing up for all the action, fashion and excitement at Addington Raceway.
Cup Day at Addington is the biggest harness racing meeting in the southern hemisphere and traditionally attracts the very best harness horses from New Zealand and Australia to race in the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup.
However, Cup Day is more than just a great race meeting — it is an iconic day for Canterbury where 25,000 people descend upon Addington in their finest racewear to enjoy a fantastic day out.
The event will take on even greater significance in 2011, according to Addington Raceway chief executive Shane Gloury.
“This year’s New Zealand Cup and Show Week is a very important event for Christchurch as the city rebuilds and moves on from the recent tragic events,” he says. “Cup Week provides Cantabrians with an opportunity to forget about the troubles caused by the earthquakes and get out and enjoy themselves.”
Stand out of action
While it is full steam ahead for Cup Day at Addington, this year’s event will be proceeding without the use of the public stand after it suffered extensive structural damage in the February earthquake.
“With the public stand coming down there will be some exciting new developments put in place,” Gloury says. Temporary infrastructure will include marquees, bars, quality food outlets and big screens for all to utilise. “With two grandstands in use, including the main stand, we’re confident we’ll provide a great event come Cup Day,” says Gloury.
Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker says while some visitors from outside of Canterbury may be hesitant to attend Cup Week this year, the same great entertainment and excitement will still be on offer.
“We’re confident this year’s festival will be another fantastic week of family fun. We are in need of a good time here in Christchurch and we’re looking forward to sharing this fun with our visitors.”
Top trotting event
Racing enthusiasts will look forward to seeing the very best trotters from New Zealand and Australia taking centre stage on this day for the country’s most prestigious trotting race, the $200,000 Hellers Dominion, over the true staying test of 3200m.
The very best pacers will also be in action on this day contesting New Zealand’s premium speed race, the $150,000 Woodlands New Zealand Free-For-All, run over 2000m.
Gloury says there are more than 220 accommodation providers currently operating in Christchurch.
To help visitors in the search for suitable accommodation for Cup Week, Addington Raceway has posted a list of providers and their contact details on www.addington.co.nz.
A star in the making
Canterbury driver Dexter Dunn is hoping the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup will be his this year at Addington.
At just 22 years of age, Dunn has been the leading driver in New Zealand for the past four seasons. He also holds the all-time New Zealand record for the most number of wins recorded in a season by a driver in this country.
Dunn recently took his driving career to the international stage in the United States, where he represented New Zealand in the World Drivers’ Championship. He was placed fourth overall against the very best drivers in the world.
Dunn’s career started early, with an outstanding racehorse called Master Musician, trained by his father, Robert Dunn, and a pony called Buster Musician, behind which Dexter learned the driving rudiments.
“I’d go to the races and watch Master Musician and I’d travel up to Auckland and other places with my family. I used to sit on dad’s knee and go around the track, thinking it was all pretty good being behind the bigger horses,” he says.
“Driving is probably in my blood. I’ve been able to do it with ease because it’s the way I’ve been brought up.”
Hopes set on Cup
At such a young age, Dunn has swept all before him on the track, although one big race has eluded him so far — the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup at Addington. He came close to winning in 2009 with Bettor’s Strike, who went down narrowly to two-time Cup winner Monkey King.
“The Cup is the ultimate race in Australia and New Zealand and is the one that I would love to win the most. Dad trained the winner Mainland Banner in 2005 and I’d love to be able to say that I drove a Cup winner. It’ll be a dream come true,” Dunn says.
“All going well I’ll drive Smiling Shard in this year’s Cup. He was the first Kiwi horse home in the Inter Dominion Grand Final earlier this year and is such a tough wee bugger he will be suited to the gruelling two miles.
“I’m sure Cran (Dalgety — trainer of Smiling Shard) will give him a thorough preparation and he has to be a great chance. I’m really looking forward to driving him this year.”
Dunn says he has grown accustomed to the media exposure and loves his job. “I don’t let that stuff worry me. I just get on and do my job. I’ve got used to it over the last few years. You just put it to the back of your mind and press on.”
He has also adjusted to the demands of travelling. “It can take a bit of a toll on your body but I’ve got used to it.
“You sometimes have to do longer hours and get less sleep but I’ve managed to adapt to it,” he says.
With red-and-black blood flowing through his veins, Dunn will be working hard to win the Cup this year on his own turf in front of a 25,000 loyal Canterbury crowd.
Free family race day fun
Lindauer Family Race Day will feature a range of activities and attractions for the whole family at Addington Raceway — and will this year be free to enter.
Lindauer Family Race Day, on Friday November 11, is a family outing where patrons pack a picnic and head to Addington Raceway. Children will be entertained with free rides and face painting, while parents socialise and enjoy the racing action.
Addington Raceway chief executive Shane Gloury says: “The past year has been a challenging time for everyone in Canterbury and one where the entire community has had to stick together.
“So we thought it appropriate this year on Canterbury Anniversary Day to adopt a red-and-black theme and to throw the gates open for all patrons.
“It’s one way that we can give something back to the people of Canterbury and let them come out and enjoy a great day with plenty of great entertainment free of charge for the entire family. We want to see a big crowd all dressed up in red and black on this day in support of Canterbury.”
Gloury promises a huge array of activity for the kids and real value for families.
Along with exciting entertainment for everyone, there will be great food and live music to provide an enjoyable atmosphere for the whole family.
Plus, the first 500 children through the gate will also receive complimentary goody bags.
Three-peat on the cards
All eyes will be on Monkey King at this year’s Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup at Addington.
Monkey King could become the first horse in 50 years to win three NZ Trotting Cups in a row. Only two horses have previously done this — Indianapolis (1934 to 1936) and False Step (1958 to 1960).
Monkey King has quickly become an Addington crowd favourite and a horse worthy of respect and awe. He was last year named the New Zealand Harness Racing 2009-2010 Horse of the Year.
The two-time defending NZ Trotting Cup champion is a precious commodity, worthy of the finest attention. He is one of the best at what he does with stake earnings of nearly $3 million to prove it.
Monkey King is trained at Kaiapoi by Brendon Hill for Auckland owner Robert Famularo, under his Cavalla Bloodstock Limited banner.
Hill says Monkey King is an equine athlete deserving of respect for his feats on the track.
”He’s just a neat little package. He’s not particularly big but he’s got a lovely stride on him. He’s a push-button to drive, like a computer — he just knows what he’s doing.”
Monkey King is driven by Ricky May, who has had five wins in the Cup. May won on Inky Lord in 1989, Iraklis in 1997, Mainland Banner in 2005 and Monkey King for the past two years.
Last year Monkey King’s time was 4 minutes 0.7 seconds, a mile rate of 2.01, with the last 800m in 56.6 seconds and the last 400m in 28.3 seconds.
There is no doubt everyone will be watching Monkey King as he goes for the third win against the best at the Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup this Tuesday, November 8.
But whatever the outcome, patrons are sure to enjoy the glamour, fashion and fun that comes with attending this exciting day at the races.
Tickets are available for the Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup Day at Addington on Tuesday, November 8th, with the first race at 11.50am. Lindauer Race Day will take place on Friday, November 11th, with Addington opening up the gates and providing free admission for everyone.
Christchurch Casino NZ Trotting Cup Day at Addington Raceway:
General admission (pre-purchased ticket) — $20
General admission (walk up on the day) — $25
Lindauer Lawn/rooftop & Twiggers Stand — $60
Christian Cullen Lounge — $80
Dining and Cup Day hospitality packages are available at www.addington.co.nz
or contact Joanne McMaster on 03 338 2572 for a full list of options.