The Auckland Racing Club has unveiled plans for a new stables development, further cementing its reputation as one of the best racecourses in the Southern Hemisphere – all while staying true to its history and heritage.
Building work worth in excess of $6 million will see tie-up stalls for 126 horses created alongside a warm-up ring, veterinary boxes and office, function room and trainers’ cafe is due to start immediately and will be completed in time for November’s Melbourne Cup meeting.
Seventy per cent of the current stable block will be demolished to make way for the development, comprising of four separate buildings around the central parade ring.
Club chief executive Paul Wilcox said the new stables will cement Ellerslie as a world class racing destination and put its facilities on par with the famous Australian courses of Flemington and Randwick.
“The idea of this development is to bring race goers and owners closer to the horses and even closer to the action.
“The configuration of these open plan tie-up stalls will allow people to look at the horses both before and after racing and gain a greater sense of the energy and passion that thoroughbred horse racing is all about. It’s how it’s done at some of the best racecourses in the world and it’s how it will be done at Ellerslie racecourse.”
In a nod to the past, the build will be finished in the same red brick currently seen in the 1930s administration building and the façade of the original totalisator machine, designed by Sir George Julius in 1913 to keep a record of the total amount bet on each horse, will also be restored to take centre stage.
The new facilities have been 18 months in the planning and have been driven by the club’s chief financial officer Tim Gillespie.
“This is a big investment for the Club but we see it as important in helping futureproof both Ellerslie as a thoroughbred racing venue and the sport itself in New Zealand,” he said.
“We’ve worked closely with the architects to design a modern facility that suits the needs of trainers, owners and the public, but also pays homage to our heritage and the great traditions of Ellerslie.
“The restoration and return of the totalisator façade is something I’m particularly thrilled about. When the original totalisator machine was installed it was the first of its kind in the world, and although the original machine is no longer around, to have the reinstated façade as the development’s focal point is tremendously exciting.”
The project architects are Auckland-based Young & Richards with Haydn+Rollett responsible for construction.
The announcement caps a positive first year as chief executive for Wilcox, who has overseen an increase in prize money and a hugely successful summer of racing, culminating in a fantastic Auckland Cup Week.
“The development is great news for racing fans across the country and for the people of Auckland. Racing has taken place at Ellerslie Racecourse since 1857 and long may it continue,” he said.