'Reindeer' race for charity

Reinsman Matthew Williamson and one of Santa's "reindeer" get into the festive mood ahead of the Oamaru Harness Racing Club's annual Christmas races. Photo by Andrew Ashton.
Reinsman Matthew Williamson and one of Santa's "reindeer" get into the festive mood ahead of the Oamaru Harness Racing Club's annual Christmas races. Photo by Andrew Ashton.

Donner and Blitzen and the rest of Santa's reindeer will go head to head in a charity race in Oamaru today in what is believed to be a New Zealand first.

As part of the fourth annual Oamaru Harness Racing Club's Christmas races, punters will be given the chance to own Rudolph, and the rest, for one race, by way of a silent auction.

Event manager Scott Elliffe said although horses wearing antlers would play the part of the reindeer, he believed it was the first race of its kind in the country.

"With the antlers on and all the Christmas bells on they will look extremely authentic.

"The idea was that while Santa was delivering presents to the crowd, his entourage decide to have a race. No doubt he will be a bit miffed."

Mr Elliffe said proceeds from the auction would go to the Child Cancer Foundation and CanTeen.

"Obviously, we are looking forward to the fun of it, but also to the fact it is supporting the work of a good cause."

He said about 3000 people were expected to attend the event.