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Punters back for the races

An estimated 5000 people flocked to Castlepoint Beach on Saturday for the return of the iconic annual beach races.

Castlepoint Racing Club President Charles White described the atmosphere as truly magical.

“You’re in this wonderful place,” he said, pointing to the sweeping beach, pristine lagoon, the iconic lighthouse and mixing all that with the sound of horses galloping down the sand.

“It’s spine-tingling stuff.”

Last year’s 150th anniversary had to be cancelled after Cyclone Gabrielle left the beach without enough sand for the horses to race safely.

Scattered between the seven races were other events, including sack races, running, egg and spoon races, and the Big Dig – where gold coins were placed in a truckload of sand to be dug out, one of the discs entitled the finder to an extra prize.

White said the day aimed to be a fun, family day while “trying to involve kids as much as we can”.

A fashion competition judged by Masterton Councillor Stella Lennox and Wairarapa MP Mike Butterick was a resounding success.

In contrast to the people dressing up, there was also an opportunity for those who preferred to dress down for the Undie 100 races.

White described those races simply as “running down the beach in your briefs”.

He said the day ran smoothly, and he was thankful to have the opportunity to put the event back on.

“I want to say a huge thanks to the public, the sponsors and the Castlepoint Racing Club committee.”

The event dates back to 1872 when local farmhands would race each other for bottles of rum and stray coins, and has been held annually, with few exceptions, since 1937.

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