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Racing Means Business For Ellerslie

For immediate release
22 February 2008

Racing Means Business For Ellerslie With Records Set To Fall.

2008 forecast as best yet for Auckland Cup Week- on and off course.

The jewel in the crown of the Auckland Racing Club is polished and ready for a week to remember, as Ellerslie’s Chief Executive projects an Auckland Cup Week that will be the most successful yet.

On the back of a bumper summer of racing around New Zealand, ARC Chief Executive Chris Weaver believes three years after moving the Auckland Cup to the pinnacle of a week of racing, fashion and all round entertainment in March has been a real winner.

Weaver points to strong growth in indicators such as dollars bet on and off course, food and beverage spend, sponsorship and public attendance but above all, he says it’s the rise in prizemoney that shows the true success of the concept of an Auckland Cup Week.

Since moving the racing of the Auckland Cup from New Year’s Day to a Wednesday in March, the growth has been exponential.

In 2005, the last year the Cup was raced on the traditional public holiday, $1.25 million was bet on course. The doomsayers predicted Aucklanders would never take time out of their work week to have a flutter at Ellerslie but in 2007 enough of them came to Ellerslie to bet $1.3 million at the oncourse totes. In 2005, sponsorship of Auckland Cup day sat at $100,000 whereas in 2007 it was $400,000 for the day.

However the most telling statistics reflect how much Aucklanders see a day at the races as money well spent in terms of entertainment. Food and beverage receipts in 2005 on Auckland Cup day were $140,000, whereas last year it was in excess of $800,000. With 15 marquees in March 2006 for the first Cup Week, next week Ellerslie staff will erect 23 corporate tents on every available piece of Ellerslie lawn space.

The Chief Executive describes the growth as organic. He’s mindful of the huge number of events that Cup Week competes against including international cricket, the Super 14 and cultural festivals and concerts.

“We have to be different and we are. Our growth is in cementing the entertainment message with the superb racing and hospitality products combined with activities such as bands that play after the races so everyone can celebrate into the night. We project ourselves as the most female friendly of sporting events thanks to our environment and fantastic fashion competitions.”

Aside from the dollar value of the new racing programme, the Club is reaping rewards in its membership. In 2004, the average age of an Ellerslie member was in the early 70’s whereas now this has lowered by to the early 50’s. Given the older members are continuing to age, this is a clear sign significant numbers of a younger generation are joining the Club. Weaver believes it’s not just racing they’re enjoying but the upgraded facilities and the access to areas such as the Cuvee Bar and Lawn, renovated at a cost of $500,000, that gives life to the idea of on course glamour for Auckland’s social set.

Weaver’s next wish is to truly cement the Auckland public’s connection with the Auckland Cup Week through more attractions for families and picnickers who want to relax at their own speed.

“We want people to see Auckland Cup Week as something that is iconic to Auckland and to have real pride in that. The Auckland Cup will always be raced at Ellerslie and it can’t be taken away from us!”


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