Cup Day: Christchurch's turn to party

Model Claire Laredo aged 19 with Smiling Shard ahead of New Zealand Cup day at Addington.
Model Claire Laredo aged 19 with Smiling Shard ahead of New Zealand Cup day at Addington.

Christchurch is ready to party after more than a year of earthquakes, loss, and bad news.

The finishing touches were being made to Addington Racecourse yesterday and more than 22,000 people were expected to pack into the venue for Cup Day.

Prime Minister John Key will present the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup and the Webb Ellis Cup will also be on show throughout the day with world champion All Blacks Andy Ellis, Andrew Hore and Ma'a Nonu in tow.

Addington chief executive Shane Gloury said more than 1000 staff would be on deck to ensure the event ran smoothly.

"It's going to be a great day. A lot of hard work has gone into it and I think Cantabrians really want to have a good time."

The February earthquake destroyed Addington's main public stand and more than $100,000 had been spent on temporary infrastructure.

"We've got our Party Central area which has bars and food stalls, more space, more entertainment and this year's facilities are going to surpass anything that has ever been in place before," Gloury said.

The corporate hospitality packages had sold out but general admission tickets were still available.

The New Zealand Army Band will perform in Party Central all day and DJ Brad from the Edge Night Show would be playing on the Lindauer Lawn Rooftop. New Zealand's Next Top Model judge, Colin Mathura-Jeffree, will be mingling on the Lindauer Lawn alongside Paul Henry.

On the weather front, a wind and rain-bearing cold front that looked like arriving in time for this afternoon's New Zealand Cup race should roll into town this morning instead.

MetService said yesterday the front was running early and should be clear of Christchurch by mid to late afternoon.

Spokesman Bob McDavitt said the cool, wet southerly change behind the front would affect the region over a few hours this morning until about noon or a little later.

"It looks like it will be coming through earlier than we thought, which is good news."

Conditions were expected to stay cool and rather cloudy for the rest of the afternoon but it should be dry and there could even be some "blue breaks" by New Zealand Cup time, 5.10pm, he said.

The weather for the rest of Canterbury's big week looks changeable.

At this stage Show Day punters on Friday could be in line for a "good old traditional nor'wester"early on.

Senior Sergeant Rob Patterson said there would be a strong police presence at Addington today, and he was urging people to celebrate responsibly.

"We're hoping for a good natured and well-behaved crowd but our focus is just to make sure the day is enjoyable and safe for everyone," he said.

Additional drink-driving checkpoints would be in place across the city and police would be "rigorously enforcing" the zero alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20.

Fairfax Media