Photo: Sonna Studios

Ellerslie stage set for Cup and Group One thrillers

Jess de Lautour, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk
7 March 2024

Trackside Derby Day delivered some fabulous winners, impressive upsets, and a sensational afternoon of fashion and entertainment, and it’s time to do it all again at Ellerslie this Saturday, for the iconic Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Day.

Superstar filly Orchestral stole the show in the Trackside New Zealand Derby last weekend, and the crowd will continue to sing her praises on Saturday, alongside The Black Seeds. These Kiwi legends will be trackside as part of The Grand Tour Racing Festival, with the Bar located on the Barratt Lawn through the afternoon before the party continues after-the-last further down on the Newmarket Lawn.

The showpiece event through Saturday’s 10-race card will be the time-honoured Gr.2 Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup (3200m), alongside a dazzling Group One double-header in the Sistema Stakes (1200m) and the Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m).

Lance O’Sullivan, co-trainer of Wexford Stables (alongside Andrew Scott), won two Auckland Cup’s as a jockey (1993 and 1994), a figure he will aim to match in a training role when Gr.2 Avondale Cup (2400m) victor Asterix lines-up in the $500,000 feature, with Lynsey Satherley on board.

The Derby-winning son of Tavistock will face the two-mile test alongside a capacity field of 18, which includes a rare three past Cup winners in Uareastar (2022), Ocean Billy (2021) and Roger That (2020). Of many remaining hopefuls, Dionysus, Terra Mitica and Trust In You have made their presence felt among the staying talent this season, as have late bolters Mark Twain and Whangaehu.

Two outstanding chestnut fillies will do battle in the Gr.1 Sistema Stakes (1200m), as Karaka Million 2YO (1200m) winner Velocious lines up against unbeaten Te Akau juvenile Captured By Love for the first time. Stephen Marsh’s Velocious is out to emulate fellow former Go Racing filly Ruud Awakening’s Karaka Million-Sistema double in the two-year-old contest, while Te Akau shoot for a fifth crown in nine editions of the race.

Ken and Bev Kelso’s glamour mare Legarto is a scorching hot favourite for the Gr.1 Bonecrusher New Zealand Stakes (2000m), and a victory in the $450,000 feature would crown her the winner of the Entain Summer Series Bonus, worth $500,000. Taranaki talent One Bold Cat is a key contender for the $100,000 runner-up prize, while Sharp ‘N’ Smart, Puntura, Skyman and El Vencedor sit in contention for the minor spoils.

Away from the thoroughbred action, Ellerslie’s terrific hospitality range has proven as popular as ever ahead of Cup Day, but any patrons hoping to secure their tickets are still able to choose from a variety of options (but be quick!)

Many of the luxury selections have been snatched up, although availability remains for the Guineas, so get a group of 10 together, and enjoy an uninterrupted showing of raceday action from the top-floor level of the Ellerslie Stand, for $600.

If you’re hoping to balance the racing action with a top-tier party, look no further than The Enclosure, located on the Barratt Lawn, and home to the fabulous Grand Tour Bar for $99pp, or get a group of 10 mates together for a discounted $890. Don’t forget to snap a pic with The Grand Tour horse for your chance to win $1000! For a more relaxed afternoon trackside, General Admission tickets are still available for either $25pp or 4 for $80, and as on Trackside Derby Day, under-15s are free.

Eat, drink and get racy with The Grand Tour at Ellerslie, for the final time this season. Dust off your glad rags to enjoy the greatest end-of-summer celebration! For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

What: Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Day

Where: Ellerslie Racecourse, 100 Ascot Avenue, Remuera, Auckland.

When: Saturday 9 March 2024

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