Cantabrians turn out in droves for Cup Day

Canterbury's Show Week kicked off in style on Tuesday as thousands of racegoers flocked to Addington Raceway for the New Zealand Trotting Cup.

Festivities and fashion were to the fore this year, with organisers aiming to restore Cup Day attendance to pre-Covid levels.

About 14,000 revellers got dressed up to celebrate the 120th anniversary of New Zealand Cup Day.

The annual harness racing meet is a highlight of the social calendar for many Christchurch residents, even if most know little about horse racing.

Organisers admit numbers are still down on pre-Covid levels of 23,000 attendees. But they are hoping some new initiatives this year might entice more punters and spectators back to Addington.

The Public Village has been redesigned, and a dedicated Fashion Marquee proved hugely popular, allowing 'fashionistas' to strut their stuff on stage.

Fashion Marquee MC Toni Street said it was great to have their own venue.

"This is the first year that they've had the fashion competition actually out in the middle of everything in a marquee, which I think is a great addition.

Fashion was emphasised this year, and Cantabrians rose to the challenge. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Fashion was emphasised this year, and Cantabrians rose to the challenge. Photo: Geoff Sloan
"Beforehand, it was sort of tucked away inside. Now everyone can see the beautiful outfits.

"I like that it's divided into two categories because I think it allows for a lot of individuality and a lot of men entered this year, which is good."

Fifty contestants lined up for the opportunity to try and win the crown for the region's 'best suited and best dressed'.

"What I've really noticed today is two big themes. One, Barbie influence from the Barbie movie, and there's been a lot of hot pink. And number two, lots of pearls and I'm glad because I wore pearls today."

Christchurch’s party atmosphere is set to continue throughout the week. The annual Canterbury A&P Show starts on Wednesday, running through to the Show Day finale on Friday, marking the province’s anniversary holiday.

- By Geoff Sloan, Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air