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Castlepoint Races to hit the straps

The organisers of the annual Castlepoint Beach Races are raring to go, with Castlepoint Racing Club president Charles White anticipating the event this Saturday will attract “plenty” of horses and spectators and feature optimum beach conditions.

“There is a really good turnout of horses” for the seven races, which will be run about every half hour, he said.

Horses will be assembled at the old wool shed, with the event kicking off with a pony race when the “tide is right” at about 10:30am.

“Once we start, we are punching through quickly,” he said.

There are 13 horses entered in the Castlepoint Cup, while there are five in the local match race, five in the pony race, and around 10 in each of the other four races.

The Cup race will begin about lunchtime, with the remainder of the races scheduled to have finished by 2-2:30pm – earlier than normal due to the timing of low tide, which provides the widest and best surface on the beach for the races.

Activities for kids at the event include “the big dig” [which involves digging for coins in a truck full of sand], and there is the fashion-in-the-field competition hosted by the local Wairarapa electorate MP Mike Butterick and guest judge.

“You can dress up for the fashion competition, or you can dress down to go in the undie 100,” White said.

There will be food stalls and coffee carts available at the race, which is sponsored by the Castlepoint Store and Whakataki Hotel for the first time this year.

Betting is allowed, and costs $2 a pop, with those taking a flutter being allocated a horse at random.

Last year’s 150th anniversary event was cancelled due to a lack of sand on the beach for the horses to run safely in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.

White, who has been involved in the club for 25 years, said although it was disappointing the event was cancelled, members and supporters still celebrated the milestone.

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.

The race is held at Jetty Rd, Castlepoint. The road will be closed from Castlepoint Bridge – before the Castlepoint Store – to Guthrie Cres from 9am onwards. Visitors are asked to park cars in paddocks opposite the Castlepoint Holiday Park, as directed by stewards. The entry fee is $5 per person.


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