It may have been the sprint to the finish line yesterday, but
the staff at Wingatui racecourse had been preparing to host
Mosgiel's biggest party for months.
From the 10,000 litres of beer and the 3600 litres of wine,
to the 400m of marquee frontage and 30 portable toilets,
having everything in place and ready to go at 12.50pm
yesterday for the first race of Wingatui's main event of the
year - Melbourne Cup Race Day - was no mean feat, the man in
charge, Otago Racing chief executive Andre Klein, said.
He viewed putting the day together like a massive jigsaw
puzzle, in which everything from the bottle openers to the
catering and seating plans was equally important, he said.
People had come to expect a great event, and so there was a
good deal of pressure to get things right for the expected
crowd of about 10,000.
The administrative and organisational side of things started
months earlier, but the physical signs of the big day, the
marquees, started going up about a week in advance, with the
aim to have as much marquee frontage as possible up by Sunday
night, leaving Monday free for other preparations, he said.
A large number of people were involved in making sure
everything was done before the day, and on the day.
Otago Racing Club president Dean Lawrence said that included
about 60 bar staff on the day, who were required to deal with
''a huge student contingent''.
Mr Klein said the track was looked after all year round to
make sure it was as safe and fair as possible, but the three
fulltime track staff did bring in some casual workers to help
prepare for Melbourne Cup Day to ensure everything was
''absolutely perfect'' by the Monday night before the race.
Assistant track manager Casey Tippet said his workload was
extended around the race day, from looking after the track to
helping get the bars and furniture ready for the event as
''It's been a busy enough week this week,'' he said.
He said it was important to make use of extra people while
they were there, because the course needed to be completely
prepared for a day that would not quieten down until after
the Melbourne Cup race itself had run at 5pm.
- Nick Bosma.