Christmas at the Races a winning mix

Wanaka’s Michael Willetts was one of the more colourful characters at the Cromwell races...
Wanaka’s Michael Willetts was one of the more colourful characters at the Cromwell races yesterday. PHOTO: ADAM BURNS
Decking out and horsing about.

It was a simple equation for the thousands of patrons who converged on Cromwell’s racecourse yesterday for the annual Cromwell Christmas at the Races.

Strong breezes and overcast conditions did not deter the revellers.

The majority of the 6000 crowd were clad in suit jackets and summer dresses.

However, tomfoolery was to be had elsewhere, including at a hens’ party and the odd puzzler.

Wanaka’s Michael Willetts came dressed in a Riddler costume he first wore to the Kaikoura trots 19 years ago.

"It was a dare to wear a weird outfit ... It’s stuck with me over the years."

The get-up had made several appearances over time, including on rugby trips and at harness and gallop meetings, he said.

"You got to be different for a day.

"My daughter colours in the question mark each year when it starts to look a bit ragged."

Otago Racing Club general manager Rebecca Adlam said the event was not just about the horses.

"It’s all about having a good time and having a day out.

"The event has grown hugely. The corporate marquees have also grown, so the community is well in behind it."

Although there was no Fashion in the Field contest yesterday, organisers were hoping to reintroduce the event next year.

Central Otago sub-area supervisor Senior Sergeant Clint Wright said the "main crowd’s behaviour was good and intoxication was mild".

About 60-70 patrons were removed during the day, he said.

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