After nearly four years of Covid-19 disruptions and an extensive $50 million-plus renovation project, Ellerslie Racecourse is set to return to the social scene in 2024, starting with a launch party this Thursday night.

Spy has learned that 150 of the New Zealand racing and social set are congregating at Ellerslie for the official launch this week. The event will be staged under the setting sun in the heart of the racecourse at the Birdcage, where the champagne will be free-flowing.

Raceday darlings and Auckland Thoroughbred Racing (ATR) ambassadors Caitlin O’Sullivan, Hannah Marinkovich and Carena West will be in attendance as well as ATR ambassador Ryan Teece and his husband, Matty McLean.

In addition to the who’s who of the New Zealand’s racing scene attending this week, All Blacks both current and former are invited and will be mixing it up alongside ZM’s Clint Roberts, fashion personalities Lulu Wilcox, Caitlin Wiig and Tim Phin.

Teece can’t wait to get back on course at Ellerslie.

“I think everyone will come back to Ellerslie with a new vigour and I can’t wait to be trackside to experience the energy. It’s such an exciting time for the industry and I’m sure the night will see plenty of new fans of the sport created,” Teece tells Spy.

“Since the announcement of my ambassadorship I’ve been approached by so many people wanting to get the inside word on Ellerslie’s return, so it’s definitely been a much-missed summer event option.”

The Karaka Millions’ race, the first meet at Ellerslie in January, has seen a stake’s upgrade with more than $4.5m up for grabs for owners and connections of the horses running in the six races on the night – the richest night in sport in New Zealand. Also announced this week is that a trophy, worth $150,000, will be tied to the newest $1m race.

Spy is told the hot new spot on the course is The Grove, in association with Leefield Station wines, but the Birdcage — home to the official afterparty — will always be a sought-after ticket.

The Sweet Mix Kids are lined up to entertain racegoers into the evening with the team at Ellerslie gearing up for the biggest Karaka Millions they’ve ever had.

Also on course will be the Boys Get Paid crowd, who’ll considerably raise the decibels on the night.

Auckland Thoroughbred Racing CEO, Paul Wilcox, said that the club had been preparing for this moment for the better part of two years and couldn’t wait to welcome people back to Ellerslie.

“The $50m track renovation will revolutionise racing in Auckland but to the majority of attendees, the track will look exactly the same,” he explained.

“What they can expect is the glamour, fun and thrill of Ellerslie back, but on a new level.

“We can’t wait to welcome racegoers, old and new, to Ellerslie to experience all that our sport has to offer. There really is nothing like it.”

2023-12-09T17:36:10Z dg43tfdfdgfd