New initiatives boost races

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New initiatives in this year’s Oamaru Christmas at the Races were well-received and will help it continue to grow in the future, Oamaru Harness Racing Club president David Heffernan says.

The event, held at the Oamaru Racecourse on Saturday, included a number of races, children’s entertainment, fashion competitions, Santa and more.

Mr Heffernan said the addition of a new memorial race, Fashion in the Field and a ‘Green Space’ section for social groups made this year’s event an enjoyable one.

“It was a really top day.”

Race six, the Kevin Greaney Memorial Handicap Pace, was dedicated to life member Kevin Greaney, who recently passed away.

The club invited his family along as guests in the marquee, he said.

“That was really super they could all come.

“They were very, very appreciative of the club going to the effort.”

Another new aspect of the day this year was the Fashion in the Field, a best-dressed competition for all those dapper lads and fashionable ladies.

“That was really well received.

“The winners of the Fashion in the Fields got a bigger clap than the horses.”

It will definitely be run again, he said.

The club opened up an extra licensed area on Saturday called the ‘Green Space’ which was allowed people to set up their own gazebos and purchase alcohol.

There were not as many people utilising that area as they had hoped but they plan to grow it in future years, the president said.

“Next year we’re hoping to build on that  ‘Green Space’.”

It means there is a very clear divide between social groups and family groups, he said.

As usual, the packed marquee was “humming” with Christmas parties and work-dos.

“That seems to be going very well.”

Although numbers were down from last year with about 1500-1800 people attending the event, instead of the intended 2000, the day was a great success, Mr Heffernan said.

“It’s a busy time of year for people.”

See p.13 for results from the event.

By RUBY HARFIELD