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Thousands of punters and spectators descended on Addington Raceway today for the New Zealand Trotting Cup.
The harness race is one of the biggest events on Christchurch's social calendar.
Addington Raceway chief executive Brian Thompson said he expects a crowd of about 13,000-14,000 today.
This year the New Zealand Cup is worth $750,000. The cup dates back to 1904 - and this will be the 120th running of the race.
"Hopefully Cantabrians get dressed up and ready to celebrate with friends and family.
"Early on in the week we had about 10,000 bottles of water ready to give out - we've upped that to 15,000 .... to make sure that everyone remains hydrated and here till the last race."
As well as the harness racing, the Crossing Cup Day Fashion Competition will take place today with the winners due to be revealed from about 2.30pm.
"We've got two categories - the best dressed and the best suited," Thompson said.
"That will be presented on the presentation area probably around Race 6 today."
The gates open at 11am and the first of 12 races starts at noon. The action culminates with the New Zealand Cup at about 5.20pm.
"Swayzee from Australia is up there as well (with Akuta). And if anyone wants an each-way bet probably go Mossdale Ben, it's being driven by Ben Hope."
The Canterbury driver and Mossdale Ben won the $20,000 Waitaki Hotel Kurow Cup in Oamaru in August. Mossdale Ben is owned by Archie Affleck and trained by Hope’s parents Greg and Nina Hope.
Harness Racing NZ provides its New Zealand Cup selections
Race 11 : IRT New Zealand Trotting Cup - 5.20pm
3: Old Town Road
4: Republican Party
IRT New Zealand Cup day race results
Race 1: SAUNDERS ROBINSON BROWN HANDICAP TROT
The opening race of the day and a trot over 3200m is always a tricky proposition. Masterly started a very warm order ($2.50) but broke at the start and played no significant part, with punters rocked by Cody Banner making a big move at the 600m and going to win by trainer Ricky Allen and driver Matty Williamson. He paid $41.20 and $14.40. Zsa Zoe and Muscle Bank completed a $38,416.80 trifecta. It was Cody Banner's ninth win in his 98th start.
Race 2: HYDROFLOW MOBILE PACE
Favourite backers were rewarded in the second with Charlie Brown producing a big finish to pip a very game Fernetti and Jolimont who ripped home out wide to get third. Carrero Rapido and then stablemate Luvstruck led the field only for Fernetti and Charlie Brown to make their moves, with Charlie Brown, driven by John Dunn, securing his fifth win in 28 starts. Charlie Brown paid $3.50, with Fernetti paying $4.70 for the place.
Race 3: MITRE 10 HANDICAP TROT
The country's top driver Blair Orange opened his account on IRT New Zealand Cup day when he took out race 3 with a powerful front-running drive with the Paul Nairn-trained Outamyway. Stablemate Confessional started a warm favourite but galloped while in the trail with a lap to go. Outamyway just kept trucking out in the lead with Unico Vacanza and Andy Hall trying hard to peg him back but having to settle for second and third. It was the dual-gaited Outamyway's seventh trotting win in 41 starts. Outamyway paid $5.90 for the win.
Race 4: GARRARD'S PACE
Paying $75.90 and $13.60 Kingsdown Atom took out race 4 for trainer-driver John Morrison, his first training success on racing's biggest day. It was a messy race with favourite Mandalay Bay prompting a squirmish mid race. Through it all Kingsdown Atom was able to get a nice run into the race and used the passing lane to get the honours. It was Kingsdown Atom's eighth win in 107 starts. An inquiry was held with 4th Shepherd's Delight vs 2nd Mandalay Bay but there was no change to places.
Race 5: TAB JUNIOR FREE-FOR-ALL MOBILE PACE (G3)
With win 11 from 13 starts Don't Stop Dreaming justified his favouritism with a powerhouse win. Drawn awkwardly, the Bettor's Delight three-year-old caused a few ripples through Addington when he bobbled momentarily soon after the start but driver Mark Purdon steadied him before heading to the front. From there it was game over with Cya Art finishing strongly into second and Merlin back in a very distant third place. Don't Stop Dreaming paid $2 for the win.
Race 6 : K B ELECTRICS MOBILE PACE
Mark Purdon went back to back with Franco Indie producing a telling burst to win race 6. Wag Star was the all the rage and led early from his wide draw before Coney Island Lou took over, putting Wag Star into the trail. But the fave couldn't capitalise as Franco Indie got an economical run back on the fence before making his move. It was number 7 (from 23 starts). He paid $10.80 for the win. Wag Star held on for second, ahead of Sooner The Bettor.
Race 7 : NEVELE R '50 YEARS OF SUCCESS' FNL MBL PACE (G1)
The first of the day's Group 1s with Millwood Nike, a $2 favourite, gunning for win number 16 in a row, against another unbeaten filly in Mantra Blue. In the end it was just another romp for the super filly as Mark Purdon made it three wins in a row for the afternoon. At one stage Millwood Nike was four wide but never looked in danger as she powered past her rivals to win comfortably. It was a one impressive performance! Mantra Blue was second, ahead of Advance Party, paying $11.80 for the place.
Race 8 : HORNBY LIQUOR CENTRE WORTHY QUEEN HCP TROT (G3)
Rowe Cup winner Love N The Port looked like a sure thing as soon as he got to the lead mid race. And that's how it turned out as Matty Williamson rated his horse perfectly out front. Resolve charged home for second with I Dream Of Jeannie third. It was trainer Phil Willliamson's second success in the race in as many years after winning with Majestic Man last year. Love N The Port paid $5.20. It was his ninth win in 39 starts. It's Matty Williamson's second win for the day after his victory with Cody Banner in the first.
Race 9: Woodlands Stud Sires' Stakes Final - 4.12pm
This depends entirely on how hard they go early. If not frenetic then Vessem (7) with the blinds and Blair Orange on can win but if they go nuts then Cold Chisel (12) or Chase A Dream (15) could over-power tiring leaders.
Race 10: Avon City Ford Trot - 4.47pm
Not a race to be diving too deeply into as some of these could be in this same grade Cup Day next year. But Elizabeth Hill (7) won’t be and has had a string of trials to get ready and been well behaved. Not foolproof but the best horse here.
Race 12: Gold Band Taxis Mobile Pace - 5.53pm
Not easy but both Dalton Shard (6) and Smoke On The Water (8) were excellent last time so they make sense in finicky way to end the day.