Fashion and fun take precedence over fillies on Riccarton race day
ALDEN WILLIAMS / Stuff
Only three of the day’s scheduled races took place, before the others were postponed due to dangerous conditions.
Christchurch cut and show week will last a little longer than expected, after slippery track conditions caused Saturday’s gallops to turn into a party and fashion show.
One of the biggest racing days in the country, the New Zealand Cup meeting at Christchurch’s Riccarton has been postponed for just three races due to a dangerous track.
Steward John Oatham confirmed just before 2pm on Saturday that the meeting was called off, after a horse slipped on the track during the third race.
The remaining nine races on the card, including the Group One New Zealand 1000 Guineas and the New Zealand Cup, would now take place at Riccarton on Monday.
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Without the races to occupy the sold-out crowd – around 15,000 – the festivities took center stage, with cheering crowds of newly-dressed punters forming around the bars and DJ booth.
This included the popular Spring Fashion in the Field contest, which went ahead as planned.
Couture milliner Susi Meares – owner of Seventh and Figg – was the overall women’s winner, scoring a trip for four to Marlborough and a year’s supply of The Ned wine.
But the day was a double win for Meares, who also styled menswear winner Sam Schwartfeger.
“We are very lucky today to have both won.”
Schwartfeger was also named best dressed man on NZ Trotting Cup day at Addington Raceway earlier in the week in a similar outfit, pairing his dark, uneven length pleated jacket with red polka dot accessories, trousers and a white hat and a smart walking stick. .
“We just made some adjustments.”
Meares had styled her own nifty feathered headpiece, complete with a Spanish-style skirt in bright red.
“It’s overwhelming, especially with Sam winning twice… It was pretty exciting to style him, winning myself was just a bonus.”
Schwartfeger said winning the second title came as a shock.
“I just feel dizzy, I’m really speechless. It was more just about having fun today.
But the postponements made the day disappointing for the coaches, many of whom had traveled a long distance to watch the game.
Coach Leonard Stewart had traveled 160 km from Timaru for the races. He had three horses to race, including Ekstrememiss in the NZ Cup.
The cancellations were “disappointing”, he said.
TRACK SIDE/SKY SPORT
The North Island horse won the $600,000 race for the second straight year.
At 90, Stewart felt he was “quite possibly” one of the most experienced coaches out there. He had traveled to Riccarton races almost every year since 1972 – minus a few in the 90s.
“I have a crooked leg anyway, so the golf wouldn’t be very good.”
Racing was also a family affair for Stewart.
“I have a granddaughter who loves horses – a big part of that.
“I told him that when I was four years old, I had to buy him a pony. She stuck her lip out and said I don’t want a pony, I want a racehorse.
Stewart and his team were packing their horses to return to Timaru, still unsure of what it would mean for the horses they had planned to race in the remaining races.
“It’s such a shame…there’s such a crowd here today.”