The Nelson Races sees thousands of punters flock to the Richmond Showgrounds. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Get set for the Nelson Races

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Nelson’s biggest weekend of racing will see thousands of punters test their luck at the track.

The Nelson Harness Races Summer Festival attracts over 4000 people to the course over the two-day event.

The festival will see 10 harness races each day with the marquee event being Friday’s Nelson Pine Industries Nelson Cup race.

Club president Kristie Hill says Nelson is in for another fantastic festival.

She says about 4500 punters are expected over the Friday and Sunday.

The festival has one major change this year with the coveted 3000m Nelson Cup shifting from Sunday to Friday.

The change was made as Sunday will now see the Magic Mile Day with all 10 races over just one mile.

Kristie says the centre of the track will again be filled with marquees and food vendors, with under 18s set for free entry to help create a family-friendly atmosphere.

“We are doing a couple new things, but we also have the usual bouncy castles and kids’ carts.”

Sunday will also see pony rides available thanks to the Motueka Pony Club and, of course, the hotly contested Fashion in the Field.

“People will be absolutely dressed up to the nines.”

Kristie says more than 100 horses have entered the festival which she says is fantastic, considering the number of racing happening around the country.

She says the Takaka-owned horse ‘Change is Good’, driven by Mitch Kerr, is an early favourite for the Nelson Cup while local rider Murray Pash’s Giselle will also be in the running.

The purse is hovering around $14,000 for the main event.

Earlier this year it was Dadndave who nosed favourite Huey Lewis by 0.1 of a second in a thrilling race.

Summer Harness Racing Festival: Friday and Sunday January 10 and 12, Richmond Park Showgrounds.