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Ellerslie Racecourse

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Title: Ellerslie Racecourse  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: New Zealand Derby, Sunline, Auckland Cup, Easter Handicap, 1988 IAAF World Cross Country Championships
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Ellerslie Racecourse

The main stand at Ellerslie Racecourse

Ellerslie Racecourse is the main racecourse in Auckland, New Zealand, for thoroughbred racehorses. It is an undulating, grass circuit of approximately 1,900 m in the suburb of Ellerslie.


  • History 1
  • Steeplechasing 2
  • Races 3
  • References 4


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. Many took the trains, though 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 Sir George Grey Special Collections[3] called Auckland Cup history makes note of the importance of the aesthetic appeal of Ellerslie Racecourse.

“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]

Even Queen Elizabeth visited Ellerslie Racecourse during the royal visit in 1953/4.[5]

Ellerslie Racecourse was the location of the first automatic George Julius and installed in 1913.

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.


Stteplechasing at Ellerslie features the well-known "hill", a part of the course 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.

Grp Race Name Age Sex Weight Distance Date
1 Zabeel Classic Open Open wfa 2000 December
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 Diamond Stakes 2YO Open sw 1200 March
1 New Zealand Stakes Open Open wfa 2000 March
1 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


  1. ^ a b Heritage et AL: Auckland Cup and racing at Ellerslie
  2. ^
  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)
  5. ^ New Zealand History
  6. ^

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