Big day at the Oamaru races

DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Last updated 13:31 11/12/2013
oamaru races

CLOSE RACE: Competitors head down the home straight during the reindeer race for charity at Christmas at the Races at Oamaru Racecourse.

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More than 2000 people made their way to Oamaru Racecourse for Christmas at the Races on Saturday, setting an attendance record for the event in the process.

Around 2100 punters were treated to some top-notch racing action, hosted by the Oamaru Harness Racing Club, on the 10 race programme as well as the kids carts race and the always popular reindeer race for charity, which was taken out this year by Nathan Williamson who guided Rudolph across the line.

Oamaru Christmas at the Races event manager, Scott Eliffe, says he puts much of this year's increased attendance down to end-of-year work functions and an increase in on-course hospitality facilities.

"We find that bookings for our trackside marquees and hospitality packages sell out well ahead of race day, as they take all the stress out of booking Christmas parties.

"Many locals even book a year in advance so it's always a good idea to get in early," she said.

"Smiling faces, fabulous outfits and the odd flutter made it a real day to remember."

It was also a day to remember for the local duo of Nathan and Matthew Williamson, who took out this year's Brother-in-Arms Drivers Series.

2013 saw the fourth edition of the event take place, with David and Phillip Butcher topping the standings for the first two years, while Clark and Ken Barron took the spoils last year.

The event was held over five races, with four points being awarded for a first place drive, three points for second, two points for third and one point for fourth.

The combined scores of the brothers competing were added up to determine a winner.

Gerard and Leo O'Reilly came in second place, while Blair Orange and John Dunn, who aren't related but combined for this year's series in Dexter Dunn's absence, came third.

Matthew, the younger of the Williamson brothers, showed scintillating form by winning the first three races on the programme, while also claiming second in race five and third in race eight.

Nathan managed to claim a win of his own in race seven.

Mr Eliffe says it's clear racing continues to be a popular pastime in Oamaru and the wider Waitaki district.

"Christmas is something to celebrate and that's why we love putting on this event. With our region's love of the races, it's a recipe for success."

Christmas at the Races is a national 56-event series with meets from Auckland to Invercargill. Up to 135,000 Kiwis from across the country are expected to attend this year.

WAITAKI HERALD

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