Early Christmas at Ascot Park Raceway

Southland Racing Club president Sean Bellew  shows off some of the electronic wristbands to be...
Southland Racing Club president Sean Bellew shows off some of the electronic wristbands to be used at today’s Christmas at the Races in Invercargill. Photo: Ben Waterworth
Christmas is coming early to Invercargill today  and the annual Christmas at the Races meeting is expected to draw thousands of people.

The  Southland Racing Club is expecting  up to 6000 patrons to converge on Ascot Park Raceway and  president Sean Bellew is as excited as a horse at the starting gate.

"It’s Christmas Day for us. It’s more important than Christmas Day in some respects. The commercial operation is good for the city. It has an economic impact on the city.

"The ramification is felt around the businesses. Every hairdresser in the city is booked between opening time and midday. I would say it runs hundreds of thousands of dollars through the city."

For the second year in a row the event will  use  electronic wristbands to make it easy for patrons to buy  food and drinks.

Mr Bellew said he saw Invercargill being an industry leader by using the wristbands.

The event will also include an on-site after-party for the first time and up to 1000 patrons are expected to stay back at "The Final Furlong" event.

Easing congestion at the end of the event as well as creating a staggered approach to patrons’ departure was the main idea behind the after-party, Mr Bellew said.

An extended alcohol ban in the area surrounding the racecourse  will also be enforced this year. The ban will be in place between 10am and 10pm,  from the intersection of St Andrew St and Racecourse Rd to the entrance of the Ascot Park Hotel, and from Racecourse Rd to Derwent St, on Yarrow St.

ben.waterworth@odt.co.nz 

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