8 Nov 2011

Cup Day lifts Cantabrians' spirits

6:33 pm on 8 November 2011

Tens of thousands of people descended on Addington Raceway in Christchurch for New Zealand Trotting Cup Day.

Cup Day - the biggest harness racing event in the southern hemisphere - ran as normal despite earthquake damage that left one of the grandstands unusable.

Extra marquees were erected to make up for the lost seating.

Christchurch City Council marketing manager Richard Stokes says Cup Day is a key event for the quake-stricken city and a sign of normality for locals.

"People are just really pleased that the events are on and it is just an opportunity to go out and be part of the community, be part of crowds and enjoying an event."

The first race got underway just before 12 pm with the main race - the $600,000 Trotting Cup - kicking off at 5.15 pm.

It was won by Terror To Love with a late dash to the finish line from the middle of the pack.

Harness Racing New Zealand's marketing manager, Andrew Morris, says rain early in the day meant a slow start, with betting down compared to a normal Cup day but he said it would pick up as the crowds arrived.

More than 20,000 people were expected to attend.