You can bet they had a good time
They came, they gambled, they showed off their finery and left a good account of themselves at Trentham Racecourse this year.
Twelve months after bankrupt property tycoon Terry Serepisos stole the show by getting into a brawl with another race-goer, Wellington Cup Day went quite smoothly.
It went so smoothly, in fact, that the only obvious glitch was on the track rather than off it, when the horse Chintz threw its jockey about 100 metres into race seven and carried on as if no one noticed.
About 14,500 people packed into Trentham to experience the jewel in Wellington Racing Club's crown, as well as the 21 degrees Celsius heat and beaming sunshine.
Race-goer Janelle Cheeseman said she had a flutter on a couple of horses but was under no illusion as to what the main attraction was.
"This is really just one big excuse for people to get hammered. The only reason a lot of these people are here is because there's the opportunity for day-drinking."
That may have been true, but police and ambulance staff were impressed by how the crowd behaved. By 5pm there had been only five arrests and 40 people treated for mostly minor problems such as cuts and bruises.
Race-goer Vi Huynh, 22, was impressed by the up-beat party atmosphere at Trentham this year.
A northerly breeze had kept temperatures quite pleasant but also presented a challenge to those wearing elaborate hats and fascinators, she said.
"Let's just say a lot of hairspray and clips went into mine."
Away from the track, Aucklander Charlotte Moor was thanking her lucky stars she made the effort to travel down after she was crowned the overall fashion in the field winner.
"I'm not a big fan of flying so we got in the car and made the 10-hour hike down here. It's been an amazing day," she said.
"There were some exquisite- looking girls on show here. The competition was very stiff."
Aside from the fillies and the fashion, the crowd also had a range of musical acts, including a Baltic brass band named Niko Ne Zna to keep them entertained.
Band member Vlatko Materic said a few race-goers had a bit of fun dancing to their unique style of music, even though they had not idea what it was.
"It gets a bit like the [Wellington] Sevens here, later on in the day," he said.
Sunday Star Times