Bumper crowds delight racing club

00:00, Jan 08 2013
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FINEST FILLIES: Fashion in the field winner Sarah Earwaker of Brightwater, centre, with runner-up Angela Miller of Stoke, left, and second runner-up Julie Penman of Atawhai.
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TOP PICK: Jackie Cole of Brightwater and Brian Muddiman of Richmond celebrate a win in race one yesterday.
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DAPPER GENTS: Men’s fashion winner David Hope of Nelson, centre, with fellow finalists Simon Merry, left, and Hayden Campbell.
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DRESSED TO IMPRESS: The women's finalists in the Richmond Mall Fashion in the Field competition wait for the judges decision.
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CROSSING THE LINE: Ricky May drives Jason Rulz to a win in the Nelson Pine Industries Nelson Cup Handicap Pace 3000m during the Interislander Summer Festival .

The roar from the 3500-strong crowd at the Richmond Park Race Course as the horses crossed the finish line was just what Nelson Harness Racing Club board members wanted to hear.

It told them the Interislander Summer Festival event was a success.

A 3200-strong turnout on Friday and more than 3500 spectators yesterday on a glorious fine day showed the popularity of the event.

"We're really, really happy," said the club's consultant, Bill Monk. "We had more people on course than we've ever had, it's magic."

The big turnout gave the club confidence for its future, he said.

"It means the Nelson Harness Club event is considered one of the best days out in the summer, that people choose to come to the races and for us it gives us confidence that we can carry on."

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On both days there were 12 races, when many clubs could only manage eight to 10, he said.

"We're getting good support from the South Island trainers," he said.

Spectators on course bet $178,000 on Friday and $200,000 yesterday, which was slightly down on last year, and off course $900,000 on Friday and $1 million yesterday.

The crowd included plenty of holidaymakers as well as locals enjoying picnics, live music and family fun events. The fashion in the field contests also proved popular, with Brightwater's Sarah Earwaker taking the women's competition and David Hope from Nelson judged the most fashionable man.

Mr Monk said the club wanted to talk with the TAB about condensing the times between races.

Yesterday the fine weather just held out. "We were cleaning up about 40 minutes after the last race when the lightning began and the heavens opened," said Mr Monk.

The club's next event will be in June.

The Nelson Mail