Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The Races are BACK – Here’s Ryan Teece’s Cheat Sheet For Your Next Hoon on the Horses

Racing is finally back at Ellerslie – so if you’re planning to pop along, here’s Ellerslie Ambassador Ryan Teece’s tips and tricks for making the most of your day at the races!

Kia ora Ryan – or Mr Ellerslie, as we’ve been told you go by these days! Tell us, why are you so invested and excited about the races being back?

I was a horse-mad kid and was a full-time rider, and while I wasn’t involved in the racing industry, some of my best horses have been ‘off the track’ – retired racehorses that have gone on to do another job. Thoroughbreds have an incredible work ethic and I don’t think you can beat a good one. My current horse, Star Tsar was handy on the track and was a winner of the Dunstan Feeds Stayers Championship Final in 2021 at Ellerslie. Naturally, because of this interest, I have always been an avid racegoer and Ellerslie is the absolute pinnacle of racing here in New Zealand so to see it return to action this summer after a long hiatus has been a great moment to be a part of. 

The races can be a bit daunting to be part of, especially if you’re not sure about the detail of what’s going on on the track! What are some things you should know before heading down to Ellerslie?

One of the beauties of racing is its simplicity – it’s about the first horse to cross that finish line. Auckland Thoroughbred Racing offers a fantastic opportunity for a fun and affordable day out with friends, just a stone’s throw away from Auckland. Helpful info and maps can be found on the website or at the track to help you navigate the day smoothly. While the races themselves are captivating, there’s plenty to enjoy away from the hustle and bustle, too. Wander over to the stables for a close encounter with the equine athletes or catch the pre-race parade ring action – a personal favourite spot of mine on any race day.  Once the racing action is done and dusted, Ellerslie is also well known for their after parties so plan to stay well after the last race is run. Ellerslie has Arii Jade and The Black Seeds lined up this Saturday for Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Day, the final day of ‘Cup Week’, so it’s going to be a good time.   

Can you give us a few buzzwords we can chuck into conversation to make it seem like we know what we’re doing?!

“Group 1” – this is a true test of class and the best racing we have in New Zealand. There are only 20 Group 1 races here per season and they are hotly contested. “Track rating” – Tracks are rated between a Fast 1 and Heavy 10 depending on the level moisture in the track. “Handicapping”: The process of assigning weights to horses to ensure a competitive race based on their past performance. “Stayer”: Refers to a horse with the ability to run longer distances, such as in races over 2000 meters or more. “Silks”: Refers to the colourful and unique patterns worn by jockeys to represent their owners. “Trifecta”: Discussing a type of bet where one predicts the first three finishers in a race – good luck with that!

If we’re planning on having a go at placing a cheeky bet (responsibly ofc), what’s the best way of reading the form guide to try and make SOME kind of educated guess? What do you look for in a horse when you’re placing a bet?

Betting adds an extra thrill to the day – even if it’s just a few gold coins. Backing a horse adds to the adrenaline and you’ll find yourself cheering as it nears the finish line. You can get very technical about which horse to back, however my husband [Matty] regularly just picks the names he likes and he does (frustratingly for me) well. The race book offers a wealth of info on horse form if you’re keen to delve a bit deeper. Keep an eye on the favourites, but remember, nothing’s guaranteed. Personally, I like to see the horses in the parade ring before making my choice – I can’t reveal all my secrets though!

Of course we have to talk about fashion – what are your thoughts on the outfits you’re seeing at Ellerslie this year?

Each year, I’m amazed by the creativity on display at Ellerslie. Fashion and racing have always gone hand-in-hand and do tend to reflect wider fashion trends. While some go all out, a classic race day look is timeless. Take Eleanor Campbell who wowed at the Melbourne Cup Carnival in 2023 and was awarded the overall fashions in the field title – beating out hundreds of Aussies. The fashion at this year’s Trackside Derby Day, which kicked off Barfoot & Thompson Auckland Cup Week was seriously impressive and the bar is raised every year – it would be great to see a few more men entering though!  

Men’s fashion seems to have really stepped up in particular – it’s not just a black suit and off you trot anymore, is it! What’s your approach to race-day dressing?

Practicality is key for me on race days – probably not what springs to mind for the ladies. I wear suits for work most days, so I do like to push the boundaries a bit more for race days, but I probably lean more towards a classic race day look. I always check the weather forecast and ensure I’ve adhered to any dress codes for my chosen hospitality area. A sleek navy suit paired with a stylish pocket square and tie is a fail-safe option. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to seek help from menswear experts like Crane Brothers – they helped us nail our Derby Day looks!

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