It must be a good 30 years since I last went to the races: the trots at Ashburton. So, in keeping with my Year of Fun, last weekend some friends and I went to the races at Trentham. By chance, it happened to be Wellington Cup Carnival Day.
Rather than paying the $25 General Admission fee, we paid $45 for admission to The Lawn. This gave us a table and chairs and sun umbrella right beside the track. We received a few other perks too, such as a free race book and a free bottle of water.
It was a blazing hot, still, sunny day, so we really appreciated the sun umbrella.
Rather than battling the crowds for a parking space, we took the train from Wellington Central Railway Station. We were lucky enough to travel both ways on one of the new Matangi trains. It was a quiet 45 minute ride through the countryside on the 10.35 am train.
One friend had to drink her takeaway coffee in a hurry because drinks, theoretically, aren’t allowed on the train. That didn’t stop a number of twenty-somethings at the end of our carriage from sneaking mouthfuls of various alcoholic beverages when the guard’s back was turned. They ‘needed’ to get drinking before they arrived as you can’t take alcohol into the racetrack grounds.
I suspect the guard was picking his battles, and that wasn’t the one to start with.
While we chose the inexpensive train option for our travel, apparently arriving by helicopter was also a possibility.
A couple of groups of people arrived that way. One smaller helicopter brought 4 or 5 passengers and landed on the grassy track. After they exited the helicopter the men strolled off, while the women struggled along behind in their stilettos and classy dresses, finding it hard going.
The other, much larger, helicopter disgorged a bunch of folks who ambled past displaying VW identification badges. VW sponsor one of the races. Again, the women struggled mightily in their high-heels and slinky dresses.
Several kicked off their shoes and walked barefoot on the grass as it was the only realistic way to make progress.
Racing kicked off at 12.35. We all laid a few bets on various races, picking our horses by such time-honoured methods as liking the horse’s name, ‘following’ a jockey, selecting female jockeys or even occasionally checking the racebook for form.
Between all 5 of us we managed one ‘win’ of $1.50 for a $2 outlay, and another win of $12.50. It’s a good thing we weren’t there to make money. Between us all I imagine we spent $100 to $150 on bets.
As the day wore on the crowds grew, and the number of inebriated people grew too. More than once we caught a whiff of marijuana too. There was a strong presence of police and security personnel though, looking relaxed, and mainly just being visible. I imagine that by the end of the afternoon they’d need to be working a bit harder.
We left around 4 o’clock. The sun and the noise from the party tent across the track were becoming a little wearing. In fact, the next day I was just shattered and spent most of the day blobbing, reading and sleeping. I suspect I hadn’t drunk enough and was a bit dehydrated.
It was a fun day out though, and definitely a change from my usual days. It was great to be there on the special Cup Carnival day, and out in the fresh air and sunshine in the countryside by Upper Hutt. The trip on the train was a bonus.