Ellerslie twilights proving popular as ever

On-course patrons can expect the vibes to be good at Ellerslie’s twilight meeting on Thursday as Aucklanders enjoy some pre-Christmas cheer across an abbreviated six-race card.

With the first race at 4:15pm and the last race less than three-hours later, the meeting provides a unique balance of racing and entertainment.

“It’s extremely popular,” Auckland Racing Club chief executive Paul Wilcox said.

“As of Monday, we had already sold 2000 more tickets than the entire meeting last year.

“I’d be disappointed if we don’t get around the 5500 to 6000 mark.

“It’s high energy, high-octane and short and sharp.

“It is like racing’s version of T20 cricket. A lot of people that will come to this on Thursday will be novice racegoers.

“It is about giving them an entertaining evening, introducing them to horse racing and showing them that it is a fun place to be.”

With members of the general public welcome to turn up on the evening, Wilcox said a number of people are making up for lost time after COVID-19 restrictions earlier in the year and keen to participate in events.

“The general public are well catered for and there will be plenty of different activations happening,” he said.

“Looking ahead to our meeting on Boxing Day, we are 1000 tickets ahead going on the same time last year.

“When we were in lockdown, the only sport that was on was racing out of Australia and I think it reacquainted people with the sport that had been absent for a long time.

“It was a captive audience and we have retained many of them so it is critical now that we look after them and keep them.”

Wilcox confirmed last Saturday’s twilight meeting at Ellerslie was a success once again in terms wagering turnover, however broader considerations will see it revert to a standard Saturday afternoon program that starts at 12:30pm in future years.

“We are mindful of the welfare of the people involved with putting on the meetings, particularly the trainers, jockeys and stable staff getting home late after a 7pm finish to a nine-race program.

“I think the industry is more accepting of the twilights that are no more than six races as you can see that it gets the big crowds and it works.

“Thursday night will be great and there are some good fields there for the punters too.”

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