Big crowd expected for NZ Cup Day
Queues for toilets and food continue to grow as the day starts to take it's toll on some at Addington Raceway today.
RTD cans and bits of plastic cups are littering the newly-laid grass area, while sunburn and a few too many beverages affect others as the crowd reaches its busiest point.
One young woman was carted off by St John before the first race began this morning, although the reason was not clear at this stage.
Another young male was seen hunched in a corner nursing the beginning of a hangover and a few women were tiring of their hats and high-heeled shoes.
Papanui's Ryan McEwan, 19, was having a "fifty-fifty" day so far, winning some bets, but losing others.
He said it was a "nice day for Canterbury", but he would "see how it goes" before comparing it to last year's event.
BODY ART WINNER NAMED
Cup Day's hugely popular Body Art contest has been won by a makeup artist who had to begin painting her model shortly after midnight.
Design and Arts College student Jordan Turner won with her New Zealand-inspired creation modelled by Nicky McKay.
While Turner said she was "very excited'' to have won, her near-naked model confessed she was "very cold''.
The body painting began at 12.30am and was not finished until 7am.
McKay said she was "not bothered" by the thought of standing in front of hundreds of people wearing little more than paint.
"I'm not a shy person and I've done it loads before.''
BEST-DRESSED MAN 'STUNNED'
Cup Day's best-dressed man says he only entered the contest on his wife's suggestion.
Tim Norton, who wore a cream pin-striped suit from Sergios, said he was "stunned'' to be named winner in the 2pm final. "My wife said I should enter."
He said he thought she was joking but was pleased he had been persuaded to get togged up for the day.
SUN SHINES ON ADDINGTON
The sun is out in full force for Canterbury's Cup Day, but the wind is threatening to lift some skirts and blow away some hats.
By opening race at 11.50am the grounds were starting to fill out, with at least as many people attending as there was at the same time last year.
Addington Raceway chief executive Shane Gloury told the crowd there had not been a wet Cup Day since 1966 and it looks like this year will be another stunner.
With the wind picking up though the women will need to be careful. Many of the portable chairs in the centre of the grounds had already blown over, but most people were managing to keep a hold of their hats.
For the women, dresses sitting at the knee or above seem overwhelmingly popular - accompanied by a hat or fascinator, of course.
Fashion for the men does not seem to vary much with the classic suit and tie still popular.
Not all are here for the fashion however, with some content to arrive in tracksuit pants and polar fleeces.
Melanie Cavaye said she did not usually come to Cup Day, but was here for the fashion and to see all the beautiful people.
"Everyone's in their finery - it's fantastic."
"Actually, I'm here for a man because I'm single," she laughed.
Raceway members Janet Bramhan and Steve Pratt said they came to Cup Day every year and "love it".
"Hopefully it's not so rowdy with drunks," Bramhan said.
Warrick Joy said he thought his group looked pretty good for having had three bottles of champagne by 11.25am.
He hoped they would end the day as they started and wanted to see "how long we can take before we're on our hands".
Kris Cooper, 20, and Katherine Graham were enjoying having a day off work.
Cooper said he was "planning on winning some money and having a good time".
Graham said she had "high expectations" for today's races, while Cooper added "yeah expectations of winning money".
The Hubbard family travelled to Christchurch from New Plymouth for a wedding, but decided to stay longer to attend Cup and Show week events.
Mum Kylee said Isaac, 20 months, was not impressed so far with his first Cup Day, but Brearna, 3, was "loving it".
"It's good so far, I'm hoping just to have fun taking part," she said.
Kylee said she was worried about experiencing aftershocks in Christchurch, but had not felt any yet.
CHAMPAGNE AND COCKTAILS
Cup Day began quietly, but some punters were ready early for a champagne breakfast in the city.
At the Christchurch Casino, Sumner and Mt Pleasant residents Adrian Anderson, Trish Moylan, Catherina Merry and Bridget Cox looked forward to a fun day out.
Anderson said she was "going to look at the fashion'' and take food supplies for everyone.
Merry said the group went every year and all enjoyed the chance to dress up and soak up the atmosphere of the day.
''We're just going to relax and enjoy being with our family and friends,'' Cox said.
Moylan said they would put "blinkers'' on their husbands to keep an eye on them during the day.
At Suede on Oxford Terrace, Nelan Dias enjoyed champagne and cocktails, but said he would not be attending the races as he had an exam later in the day.
Stuart Mills said his day would consist of "food, booze, gambling''.
Amy Bailey was pleased to have organised her Cup Day outfit without having to buy anything new and said she was "just going to sit and look pretty''.
"But I want to bet on at least one race - that's my goal. Last year I didn't get round to it,'' she said.
Former Christchurch resident Laura Cooper flew down from Wellington to hold her hen's party with family and friends at Cup Day.
With the groom still in Wellington, Cooper said it would be "a complete girls' day'' before the wedding on Saturday.
Sister Lou said there would be a few surprises in store for the bride-to-be over the day, with a "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue'' theme.
BIG CROWD EXPECTED
More than 25,000 racegoers are expected at Addington raceway.
Gloury, an Australian, said the event was the "Melbourne Cup of New Zealand racing".
He said a larger crowd than last year's 24,500 was expected after improvements to the course.
An extended lawn, a new, covered public area and additional toilets would be "very well-received", he said.
A fine day was forecast, with a freshening north-easterly and a maximum temperature of 17 degrees Celsius.
Addington had also taken an anti-intoxication measure, with wristbands being issued to all racegoers. Those getting drunk would have their wristbands removed, preventing them from buying alcohol.
Addington "drew a line in the sand" last year after its liquor licence was threatened, Gloury said.
"People now know what to expect, and we're going to continue [the stance]," he said.
"We certainly want people to enjoy themselves and have a great day, but patrons can't take it too far, and we have got measures in place in the event that they do."
There would also be a crackdown on unofficial boot parties outside the course.
Racegoer Ashley Mayo said he was "stunned" when his group was turned away on Sunday while trying to erect a tent in a spot they had occupied for the past 20 years in the car park outside the gated area.
Gloury said patrons had to understand that "times had changed".
"We've got to be responsible hosts and comply with the special licence we have here on Cup Day," he said.
Despite a drop in stakemoney – from $1 million to $750,000 – Gloury said the cup had attracted a quality field.
Australian pacer Smoken Up was the second favourite for the stayers' feature.
"He will certainly be very hard to beat, but, obviously, there's 14 New Zealand horses including the favourite, Stunin Cullen, and last year's defending champion, Monkey King, that will also be extremely hard to beat."
In the city, bars are ready to sate the thirst of the crowd.
Grant Fomison, manager of the Yellow Cross in SOL Square, said the bar had nearly doubled its staff for tonight and stocked up with an extra 1000 litres of beer.
"We are basically running the bar as though it's a Saturday night. I think people are going to release themselves like it happens every Cup Day," Fomison said.
At The Bog Irish Bar, manager Orla Carroll said they would be serving a race-morning breakfast. There would also be live music and extra bottles of bubbly and barrels of beer.
Police said they would focus resources on Addington Raceway today, as well as on the Canterbury A&P Show and Riccarton Racecourse during the week.
About 20 extra staff would be deployed at Addington Raceway, and officers would also be highly visible in the city after the event.
Senior Sergeant Peter Laloli urged show and racegoers to be security conscious and not to leave valuables on display in vehicles at the raceway or at the showgrounds.