Castlepoint Racing Club secretary Jo Blyth said favourable beach conditions meant the races, planned for March 20, would most likely go ahead. The races have been held only twice in the past seven years - the last time in 2007 - after storms swept away sand, leaving rocks exposed.
"2010 is looking very promising,” said Mrs Blyth. “The beach is looking fabulous and there is more optimism than there has been for many years.”
The historic beach races date back to 1872 when local station hands competing on farm hacks would compete for bottles of rum and any stray coins. However in recent times the races have progressed into a unique family day out with the emphasis on entertainment and picnicking. Thoroughbreds have replaced farm hacks and it’s not unusual to see the usually quiet sea side settlement bustling with people carrying umbrellas, picnic hampers, deck chairs and chilly-bins all enjoying the day and the spectacular vista which includes the Castlepoint lighthouse. “This is one of the most unique races in the country where the sea wall becomes the guard rail and the horses’ rail is the waters edge,” said Mrs Blyth. There’s a quaint laid back atmosphere reminiscent of the old days and old fashioned games like a tug of war and three legged races for the kids.”
Betting is allowed at the event but conducted as an equalisator, under which punters are allocated horses at random and tickets are purchased for $2.
A special feature of this year’s event will be the opportunity to purchase a NZ Post postage stamp that features an image of the popular beach horse races. The private-issue commemorative stamps, printed by NZ Post through its Personalised Stamps project, feature the lighthouse and race official Charles White in the midst of the 2007 races.
Mrs Blyth said money raised from the stamps would bolster funds for the racing club. The Castlepoint beach horse races will be held on March 20, 2010. For more information on this and any other events happening in the Wairarapa, visit www.wairarapanz.com/