Organisers at finishing post after slow start

18:06, Nov 08 2012
Tim Mills
TIDY UP: Riccarton Park chief executive Tim Mills is confident punters will understand the need for alcohol restrictions.

Riccarton Racecourse had to race against the clock to be ready for Cup and Show Week this year.

A detailed inspection showed the venue's 1960 stand, known as the old members' stand, met less than 33 per cent of the building code.

It would have "cost a hell of a lot" to bring it up to code, Riccarton Park chief executive Tim Mills said, and the decision was made to knock it down.

"We were lucky to get the insurers, the engineers and the demolition company around the table at one time to talk about the plan because we didn't have time to mess around," he said.

The stand housed toilets, totes and hospitality areas, he said.

"It was difficult, but everyone just got on with it. We wanted to make this year bigger and better than ever.

Advertisement

"There were these American guys and they were asking about how important Cup and Show Week was, and I told them to think of it like it was the Super Bowl."

Ticket sales were looking good and temporary facilities to replace the demolished stand would "work very well".

Mills said "pockets of bad behaviour" last year had resulted in a special liquor licence being required for the paddock area which draws hundreds of people for car-boot parties at Riccarton's Cup Day.

"This means that the BYO component is not allowed any more. People have to buy alcohol through us."

He said staff expected a "certain amount of feedback" but hoped people would have a more positive experience under the new rules.

"Unfortunately, there is this social issue with binge drinking, preloading and bad pockets of behaviour, and if we take a hit this year, then so be it, but I think people will have a more enjoyable time."

There would be enough alcohol outlets, he said.

His team had improved on last year's event with a more detailed traffic management plan, more line entries into the racecourse and contingency plans for bad weather.

Riccarton will host the first event in the Cup and Show Week calendar with the New Zealand 2000 Guineas Day tomorrow.

The racecourse will hold Ladies' Day on Wednesday and the New Zealand Cup on Saturday, November 17.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Gates open at 10am tomorrow.

First race at 12.15pm.

Corporate areas open from 11.30am.

No age restriction.

Entry via Racecourse or Steadman roads.

The Press