My first international race day! I was asked to judge the Derby Day and Viva Prix de Fashion FOTF competitions held at Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland, New Zealand.
What a privilege!
Now, we all know I am a junky and have attended many race day events. Last year I managed to see my first Beach Horse Race and attend some country races, which were so much fun. But an international race day was next on my bucket list (also on my bucket list is Royal Ascot and Dubai World Cup).
When I was asked to be a part of the judging panel on Derby Day, which is held on the same day as the Viva Prix de Fashion Final, I was absolutely thrilled. This is New Zealand’s biggest FOTF competition, I would compare it to the National Finals in Australia.
About the Viva Prix de Fashion Competition
Between October and February, eight FOTF competitions are held at the following race courses throughout New Zealand with the winners getting a spot in the prestigious Viva Prix de Fashion competition.
- Hawke’s Bay Racing Spring Carnival, Hawke’s Bay, usually held in October
- New Zealand Cup Day, Riccarton Park Racecourse, usually held in November
- Counties Cup Day, Pukekohe Park, usually held in November
- Waikato Cup Day, Te Rapa Waikato Racing Club, usually held in December
- Ruakaka Christmas at the Races, Ruakaka Racecourse, usually held in December
- Boxing Day Races, Ellerslie Auckland Racing Club, usually held in December
- Wellington Cup Day, Wellington Race Club, usually held in January
- Breeders’ Stakes Premier Raceday, Matamata racing club, usually held in February
The winner of the Viva Prix de Fashion competition wins the fabulous prize of a trip to Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup Carnival and a fast track to the prelims on Melbourne Cup Day. Lucky Lady.
The eight ladies who had won at qualifying events around New Zealand, going on to compete in the Viva Prix de Fashion Final were Teddy Livingstone, Stephanie Murray, Belinda Green, Claudia Campbell, Elizabeth Charleston, Aleisha Mitchell, Deborah Lambie and Janelle Burnside. The ladies can choose to wear the same outfit they won in or a whole new outfit completely.
Ladies who turn up on the day still have a chance to enter the Viva Prix de Fashion Final. The four winners from the Derby Day Fashions on the Field (held earlier in the day) go through to the final. Most ladies entering the Derby Day competition wear black and white, however, contestants who choose to wear colour are not penalised.
This year there were some seriously fabulous prizes for the Derby Day winners thanks to Hawaiian Airlines. The 4 winners were awarded 100,000 Air miles (equivalent to a return trip to Hawaii!) and 2 night’s accommodation. Am I moving to NZ?? Perhaps.
My Auckland Trip
Although just a hop, skip and a jump across the ocean, I’d never been to NZ before and I was super excited, my mind overflowing with ideas on how I was going to spend my (very) few days there. I flew into Auckland on Thursday evening and arrived at midnight.
I caught the Super Shuttle from the airport to the beautiful Pullman Hotel, one of the perk’s included in my role as judge (thank you!). I was so happy to see my lovely room with a king size bed…and then I started to feel ill. Overcome with sudden aches and pains, I went to bed right away. The 8 hours that followed were the worst of my life. I was shivering, sweating and aching, trying to get some sleep. Then I was up worrying and stressing over how I was going to get up in the morning and function as a normal person.