A huge Wellington Cup crowd was left stunned as a member of the public ran onto the track into a field of charging horses at Trentham on Saturday.
Remarkably nobody was injured in the incident that saw jockeys dodging the foolish track intruder at full speed 150m from the end of race eight.
The intruder was arrested by police and taken from the venue, with the disruption to the race seeing one of the horses declared a non-starter.
Kayo is your ticket to the best sport streaming Live & On-Demand. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
Jockeys were left trying to avoid the male offender as he stood in the middle of the track as the field fanned directly in front of the main grandstand.
Bizarrely, the man appeared to raise his hands in celebration after the horses had passed him.
With thoroughbreds weighing around 500kg and travelling faster than 60km/h in the closing stages of the race, had any of them made direct contact with the intruder the results could have been fatal — and all on live television being beamed around Australasia.
“He was lucky he didn’t get run over,” champion jockey Danielle Johnson said.
“Most of us didn’t see him until late.”
Fox Sports boxing commentator Ben Damon posted a blunt response to the footage: “Behold, a d***head.”
New Zealand racing powerhouse Te Akau Racing tweeted: “Barbaric – he could have killed our horses and our humans — and himself.”
A police spokeswoman confirmed the man is likely to be charged with endangering public safety.
“The guy was stupid. All the horses had to separate around him. It’s more about the safety of the horses and jockeys,” a Trentham spectator told Stuff.
“Everyone was yelling at him.”
The incident comes three months after a golfer playing at the pitch and putt course inside Ellerslie racetrack accidentally wandered into the body of the field in the famous Great Northern Steeplechase.
The huge Ellerslie crowd was left gobsmacked when the golfer, playing on the pitch and putt course inside the racetrack, ended up on the steeplechase track after a misdirected shot.
He had hit his ball over a guard rail at the central Auckland racetrack and went to play his next shot without realising the horses were about to gallop down the exact same stretch of grass.
The golfer reacted about 50 metres before the horses got to him and all jockeys were able to avoid him.
This article originally appeared on the NZ Herald and was reproduced with permission