Ellerslie Racecourse

Property Services

Project
Special Project
Strengthening / restoring

Location
80 Ascot Ave, Remuera

Client
Auckland Racing Club

Value
$6 Million

Consultants
Architects /
Young & Richards

In addition to a horse race or two, the crowd
who celebrated 2018 Melbourne Cup Day
at Ellerslie got to witness something else:
a rebirth. Following a $6 million upgrade, the
1857 racecourse has been transformed into
a world-class venue, with new stables and
a central warm-up ring, veterinary boxes,
a trainers’ café and a function room. Yet for
all the cutting-edge upgrades, the aesthetic
centrepiece of the new Ellerslie is a restored
1913 totalisator.

Nine years in gestation, the Ellerslie project
saw Haydn & Rollett working particularly
closely with architects Young & Richards at
the design stage. The guiding principle for
the revamp was to bring the public much
closer to the horses, as is the case at many
of the world’s most famous racecourses.

It began with the removal of two-thirds of
the existing indoor stables. At this stage, the
team hit a snag in the form of three buildings
that had been demolished years ago and
buried on site. Their removal and subsequent
decontamination added several weeks
to the programme, although ultimately
Haydn & Rollett was able to accelerate other
aspects to achieve handover on time.

The heart of the project was the construction
of 126 tie-up outdoor stalls for the horses.

Arrayed along three sides of the parade ring,
they were inspired by a German prefabricated
system used at Karaka, and built using a
particularly durable South American hardwood
call Cumaru. For racegoers previously unable
to see the horses up close and personal,
it makes for a thrilling change. As Auckland
Racing Club’s Chief Executive Paul Wilcox
put it, the public is now able to get a
“greater sense of the energy and passion
that thoroughbred racing is all about”.

Meanwhile, the tin façade of Ellerslie’s
landmark Sir George Julius-designed 1913
totalisator – the first all-mechanical tote in
the world – was sent to specialists in Wellington
for restoration. It has been reinstated centre
stage, while the rest of the tote has been
recreated in plaster and weatherboard.

The stables and tote building flank a parade
ring made of a novel non-slip rubberised
surface that had to be painstakingly hand-laid
using trowels. And that particular job neatly
sums up this project for Haydn & Rollett.
It’s not every day a construction company gets
involved in building stables, and there were
plenty of unknowns, yet the project team
achieved a terrific result. Ellerslie just got a
new lease of life.