Ellerslie Racecourse

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Aerial view of the Ellerslie Racecourse

Ellerslie Racecourse is the main racecourse in Auckland, New Zealand, for thoroughbred racehorses. It is an undulating, grass circuit in the suburb of Ellerslie, with a circumference of just under 1,900 metres. Racing is conducted in a clockwise (right-handed) direction.


Ellerslie Racecourse circa 1910 in a photograph by Albert Percy Godber
Grounds circa 1910
Grounds in 2021

Horses have raced at Ellerslie since 1857 when Robert Graham hosted a race meeting on his property, on the site which is now Ellerslie Racecourse. The Auckland Racing club then purchased thirty-six hectares of land from Graham in 1872 on which the course is situated.[1]

The first race meeting of the Auckland Racing Club was held at Ellerslie on 25 May 1874.[1] At this time the racecourse was a considerable distance outside the city and it took Aucklanders up to several hours to get to the course by carriage.

A "platform" station, Ellerslie Racecourse Platform was opened in January 1874. Many went by train, although with the demand created by the event, as late as in 1910 they often had to travel in open cattle trucks because there were not enough normal coaches available for the demand of the extra services.[2]

A publication compiled by E.G. Sutherland, held in the Sir George Grey Special Collections,[3] makes note of the importance of the aesthetic appeal of Ellerslie:

"It seems worthy of mention that by making Ellerslie attractive the Auckland Racing Club has added to the popularity of the sport. Ellerslie’s attractive outlook has been partly responsible for bringing thousands of visiting racing patrons within its borders to witness the best class of thoroughbreds in action. It’s well laid out floral beds, ponds and large variety of choice trees and palms have drawn kudos from Royalty, Governors, Viceroys, tourists and visitors from all parts of the world."[4]

Ellerslie was the location of the first automatic totalisator, designed by George Julius and installed in 1913.[citation needed]. Queen Elizabeth II visited the racecourse during the royal visit to New Zealand in 1953/54.[5]

During World War Two the Stands were used as Hospital Wards for the American Forces serving in the Pacific. Dr McGregor-Grant, who the Steeplechase is named after, was the head Doctor.

During the 20th century, Ellerslie Racecourse provided plants for Kingseat Hospital.[6]

Champion racehorses to have raced at Ellerslie include Kindergarten, Balmerino, Bonecrusher, Uncle Remus, Japan Cup winner Horlicks, Il Tempo, Mr Tiz, Sunline (who was buried at the racecourse in 2009) and Jimmy Choux.

Ellerslie is home to two of New Zealand's major racing carnivals - the Summer Carnival and Auckland Cup Week. The Summer Carnival is run in the Christmas-New Year period with Boxing Day and New Year's Day formerly being home to the New Zealand Derby and Auckland Cup respectively, but these were moved to the new Auckland Cup Week in March 2006.


Steeplechasing at Ellerslie uses the well-known "hill." The jumping track leaves the course proper just before the 1000 metre mark at the end of the back straight and rises approximately 16 metres to the top of the hill, where there are two steeplechase fences 100 metres apart. There is another at the foot of the hill where the steeplechase track rejoins the course proper just after the 600-metre mark. The total length of this section of the track is approximately 750 metres. It is not used for flat racing. The major steeplechase at Ellerslie, the Great Northern Steeplechase, requires the horses to climb this hill 3 times in the 6400m event.


The following is a list of Group races which are run at Ellerslie Racecourse.

Race Name
1 Zabeel Classic Open Open wfa 2000 December 26
1 Railway Stakes Open Open wfa 1200 January
R Karaka Million Restricted 2yo Open sw 1200 January
1 New Zealand Derby 3YO Open sw 2400 March
1 Auckland Cup Open Open hcp 3200 March
1 Ellerslie Sires Produce Stakes 2YO Open sw 1200 March
1 New Zealand Stakes Open Open wfa 2000 March
2 Easter Handicap Open Open hcp 1600 April
2 Eight Carat Classic 3YO Fillies sw 1600 December
2 Great Northern Guineas 3YO Open sw 1600 January
2 Royal Stakes 3YO Fillies sw 2000 January
2 City of Auckland Cup Open Open hcp 2400 January
2 Rich Hill Mile Open Open hcp 1600 January
2 Championship Stakes 3YO Open sw 2100 April
2 Darley Plate Open Open wfa 1200 March
3 Lindauer Stakes Open Open wfa 2000 November
3 Great Northern Challenge Stakes Open Open wfa 1600 November
3 Eclipse Stakes 2YO Open sw 1200 January

Other races of note in the past include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Heritage et AL: Auckland Cup and racing at Ellerslie
  2. ^ "Auckland Affairs - Race Train Ructions". NZ Truth. 8 January 1910. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  3. ^ Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries
  4. ^ "'Auckland Cup history: and Ellerslie's great advancement as a racing centre under able administration'. Compiled by E.G. Sutherland. (1947)". Archived from the original on 5 June 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  5. ^ New Zealand History
  6. ^ Papakura, N.Z. : Kingseat Jubilee Editorial Committee (1981). Kingseat Hospital, 50 years, 1932–1982.

Coordinates: 36°53′21.45″S 174°48′20.77″E / 36.8892917°S 174.8057694°E / -36.8892917; 174.8057694