63 years of the Wellington Cup

TESSA JOHNSTONE
Last updated 14:41 22/01/2014
horse
KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ

KEEN PUNTERS: Frank Neustroski, Keith Neustroski and George Smith have been attending the Wellington Cup for 63 years, and were at Midland Park to meet Great Sensation’s stand-in today.

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They were there for Great Sensation's wins in the 60s, they were there for Castletown's wins in the 90s, and they'll be there on Saturday to see another year of fine Wellington Cup racing.

Brothers Frank and Keith Neustroski, from Stratford, and friend George Smith, from Upper Hutt, have been going to the Wellington Cup races for 63 years - nearly half the event's history.

''We're still learning though - what we don't know is who's going to win this year,'' said Frank Neustroski.

Mr Neustroski is backing Templeten for a win, but Mr Smith reckons it'll be Annie Higgins - but their views were unchanged by today's live barrier draw in Midland Park.

The 17 starting barriers for race number nine of Wellington Cup Day, in which $200,000 is at stake, were randomly drawn by trainers, owners, mayors and celebrities.

The sought-after number one spot was taken by Spiro, which owner John Maetzig said just means his horse has a little bit less work to do.

''We're happy with that, it'll get him out into a good place, it's a long race, but it'll get him into a good position.

But it doesn't change the chances - it's just a tad less difficult. But it's still a difficult race to win.''

Templeten's co-trainer Scott Lucock said picking the number six spot was perfect for his horse.

''For the way he races it's an idea place to be, he doesn't have to do any extra work - he's going to break the books.''

Race Inc chief executive Alasdair Robertson said it was the first time in 25 years a live barrier draw had been held for the Wellington Cup, and it was part of a push to bring the event back to Wellington people.

''It's called the Wellington Cup so it should be celebrated in Wellington. My goal is to take over Courtenay Place and have horses parading and celebrating something really special.''

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- The Dominion Post

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