Style and sulkies draw big crowd to Nelson summer harness meet

Nelson Harness Races January 2018

Hundreds enjoyed the action and the fun at the Interislander Summer Festival Harness Races, in Richmond, during the weekend.

Sartorial elegance was a big winner at Richmond Park on Sunday – and there were some pretty good performances from actual horses on the track too.

In perfect January conditions, Nelson Harness Racing Club's annual Interislander Summer Festival Harness Races returned to the Richmond racecourse on Sunday, after a mixed bag of weather on Friday's opening day. 

Hundreds made the most of the break in the weather to attend the 10-race programme, highlighted by the Nelson Pine Industries Nelson Cup in race nine. 

A steady stream of tote slips were printed throughout the day as punters placed bets based on a hunch or through careful study of their race book.

For those keen to back their sense of style, the Wild Tomato- Morrison Square Fashion in the Field competition attracted a wide range of costumes from all ages.

Christina, Emily and Louisa Clifford were first-time entrants in 2018, having made their own ensembles right down to the fascinators.

Duncan Robertson, Benjamin Walsh, Alex Fraser, Josh Allen and Mark McKenzie, during the races' fashion show, in Richmond, on Sunday.

"We'd never been here before – it was nice day so we thought, why not give it a go?" Christina said. 

Among those sharing in the $3000 prize pool were boys winner Carter Dean, Girls winner Ava James, with James Glover and Elizabeth Charleston claiming the men's and women's categories, respectively..

The prize for best hat went to Emma Silke-French.

Not entered in the competition but making a fashion statement in matching Hawaiian shirts were local lads Andrew and Hamish Drummond, Hugh Knight and Josh Kennedy who were looking to back up from the first day of the meeting.

"We were horribly over-dressed on Friday, so this seemed like a sensible choice for today," Hamish said.

Pleased to be enjoying a 25 degree day as opposed to the minus 5 temperatures back home, Yorkshire visitors Donna Welburn and Ashleigh Hickling were enjoying the day's proceedings from one of the many hospitality tents dotted along the home straight.

"It's very different atmosphere to back home – I'm not sure whether these high heels were such a good idea now," Welburn said.

In her first meeting as Nelson Harness Racing Club's first female president, Kristie Hill was thrilled with the turnout for both days.

"The weather gods smiled on us – Friday probably kept a few people away or those that might have come after work – but we hope everyone's enjoyed their day."

Hill said the club had increased its publicity of this year's event in a bid to attract more numbers to Richmond Park, as well as investing in an improved track surface which she hoped would lead to some fast times at future events. 

"We spent quite a lot of time sourcing the right materials to give it a real cushioning effect underfoot, which the drivers seem to be really pleased with, hearing back from them."

On the track, driver John Dunn converted his four placings and one win on Friday into a trifecta of wins in the first five races of the day while another Dunn, Dexter, claimed the third race with a win on the  $1.10 favourite Editorial. 

In the feature race, The Bus and driver Samantha Ottley took out The Nelson Cup over the 3000m distance, just ahead of the Dexter Dunn-driven Cable Beach and Don Domingo in third.

Article courtesy of the Nelson Mail: read full article here