Race crowd ‘the best one yet’

The Press - - Front Page - MAD­DI­SON NORTHCOTT

Class went out the win­dow as favourite Lazarus won the head­line event at Christchurch’s Ad­ding­ton Race­way yes­ter­day.

Ju­bi­lant win­ners em­braced pre­ma­turely, teary, leav­ing per­fectly placed fas­ci­na­tors skewed and groomed hair ruf­fled as the over­whelm­ing crowd pick rounded the corner and started up the home stretch.

The gen­er­a­tional di­vide ev­i­dent through­out yes­ter­day at the race­way was set aside as pun­ters young and old packed shoul­der to shoul­der in the stands to en­joy Can­ter­bury’s premier har­ness horse-rac­ing event, the New Zealand Trot­ting Cup.

Over-en­thu­si­as­tic em­braces were one of the only signs of disor­der dur­ing the much-an­tic­i­pated event, with emer­gency ser­vices prais­ing the 20,000-strong crowd’s good be­hav­iour.

St John event com­man­der Chris O’Ma­hony said it had been a ‘‘pretty mun­dane’’ day at the of­fice, much the same as last year. Fewer than 30 peo­ple were seen by paramedics and, of those, most wanted a plas­ter to soothe a nig­gly blis­ter or a safety pin for a ripped dress, he said.

‘‘We saw a cou­ple for in­tox­i­ca­tion but most of those were dealt with by se­cu­rity or the re­cov­ery tent. One fell into a fence and got a bit beaten up, an­other cut his fin­ger. Noth­ing major. You can’t com­plain about that.’’

Seven peo­ple were ar­rested over the course of the day – three for tres­pass out­side the venue, two for al­co­hol detox, one for dis­or­derly be­hav­iour and one on a war­rant to ar­rest. A booze ban around the venue was strictly en­forced to curb prob­lems with pre-load­ing that had been ex­pe­ri­enced in pre­vi­ous years.

Se­nior Sergeant Gor­don Spite said the crowd had been ‘‘re­mark­ably good’’.

‘‘This would be the best ones I’ve been at by a coun­try mile.’’

He ap­plauded the work of or­gan­is­ers for keep­ing prob­lems to a min­i­mum. ‘‘I take my hat off to them re­ally; I think they are do­ing a great job.’’

Those who overindulged in the day’s bev­er­age of­fer­ings were plucked from the crowd, of­ten fol­lowed by a flock of jolly friends cart­ing high heels and clutches, and es­corted to the chill-out area, most with­out a fuss.

As if on script, pony pun­ters for­tu­nate enough to have se­cured a seat in the fi­nal race rose to their feet and the hum of the com­menter was drowned out by the roar of the crowd and flail­ing race book­lets as back-to-back win­ner Lazarus, driven by Rolle­ston based trainer Mark Pur­don, crossed the line ahead of his near­est ri­val, Jack’s Leg­end. Squinted eyes were glued to the track, shielded by un­steady hands from the height of the late spring sun.

The 5.15pm race marked the end of what had been a day of bev­er­ages, bets and ban­ter for more than 20,000 race­go­ers, with most of those who were still steady on their feet fil­ing out of the venue in a mass ex­o­dus.

A group of teenagers, in­clud­ing Johnny Clay and Ben White, had made the pop­u­lar beer gar­den home for most of the day. White plas­tic chairs lay dis­carded with most rev­ellers pre­fer­ring a grassy spot to curl up on. Bet­ting tick­ets went mostly unchecked and for­got­ten, tucked away under dirty take­away poly­styrene burger con­tain­ers. Clay said de­spite hav­ing limited knowl­edge of the sport, the group of lads he was with had not shied away from vis­it­ing the

TAB and pulled in a few wins.

PHOTO: JOSEPH JOHN­SON/STUFF

Mark Pur­don cel­e­brates with own­ers Philip and Glenys Ken­nard and their daugh­ters af­ter the Cup pre­sen­ta­tion.

PHOTO: JOSEPH JOHN­SON/STUFF PHOTO ALDEN WIL­LIAMS/ STUFF

Lazarus, driven by Mark Pur­don, wins the New Zealand Cup at Ad­ding­ton Race­way.

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