A day at the races

WIND UP: Nine-year-old Amy Campbell, left, and Stella Lassey, 8, have fun with the hula-hoops at the Kids Go Racing section of the Interislander Summer Festival Ruakaka Races, which was attended by thousands on Thursday.
WIND UP: Nine-year-old Amy Campbell, left, and Stella Lassey, 8, have fun with the hula-hoops at the Kids Go Racing section of the Interislander Summer Festival Ruakaka Races, which was attended by thousands on Thursday.
FASHION FUN: Young fashionistas 11-year-old Charlotte Bland, left, Daisy Fox-Wilson, 9, and Lucy Bland, 9, got dressed up for the occasion.
FASHION FUN: Young fashionistas 11-year-old Charlotte Bland, left, Daisy Fox-Wilson, 9, and Lucy Bland, 9, got dressed up for the occasion.
FUN FACES: The face painting can’t hide the joy of Kieran (left), Danielle and Hannah Fergus as they tuck-in to a fine fare of hotdogs and chips.
FUN FACES: The face painting can’t hide the joy of Kieran (left), Danielle and Hannah Fergus as they tuck-in to a fine fare of hotdogs and chips.
SPECTACULAR RACE: Horses race at Whangarei Racing Club in front of a stunning backdrop of Mt Manaia as part of the Ruakaka Races.
SPECTACULAR RACE: Horses race at Whangarei Racing Club in front of a stunning backdrop of Mt Manaia as part of the Ruakaka Races.

A little bit of rain was not enough to deter thousands from the Interislander Summer Festival Ruakaka races on Thursday.

A crowd of 3500 attended the January 3 event at Whangarei Racing Club in Ruakaka.

Racing Board spokesman John Mitchell says it was a hugely successful day.

"The crowd was much bigger than it has been previously," he says.

Betting on-course was also higher than previous years, with more than $200,000 bet on the day, he says.

But children were also a key component and they were treated to Kids Go Racing events and activities.

A colouring competition, swing-ball, hula-hoops, face painting and a bouncy pirate ship were all part of the fun.

For Craig Fergus, the races have changed a lot since he last attended as a child with his father.

This year he came with his own family and was impressed that there was plenty to do for his children aged 3, 6 and 8.

"This is the first time I've been here since I was a kid - it's something different to do," he says.

The dress sense was varied with a number of women wearing dresses and hats or fascinators. However, the Northland "dress code" of T-shirt and shorts was also sported by many.

The entertainment included live music and a tug-of-war between the jockeys and lifeguards.

Whangarei Leader