CRICKET legend Shane Warne is excited to be guest of honour at Cup Day in Christchurch and joked that by the end of today, rumours will be rampant that he's dating several local fillies.
The colourful sportsman and Liz Hurley's ex, known simply as 'Warney', flew into Christchurch last night.
It's believed the cricketer, who has a reputation for being a ladies' man, was at a city night spot last night and arrived 20 minutes late to his press conference at Addington this morning.
But once he showed up, the great Test bowler was in fine form.
"I love coming to New Zealand - always have. We've got a love/hate relationship - they generally hate me and I love them," he said.
Warne, who has 1.76 million followers on Twitter, expects loads of selfies today.
"I think there's 20,000 [people] here so if I can do 10,000 I reckon I'll be pretty good," he said.
"I'm sure there will be a few fun selfies and I'm sure I'm probably dating about 10 people by the end of the day as well..."
Warne will be "strolling" down the home straight twice throughout the day and, at 3.45pm, will be doing a big screen interview for the crowd, which is expected to top 20,000.
Asked if any Canterbury fillies had yet caught his eye, he said: "Hopefully there'll be a few attractive ladies here. I'm looking forward to meeting a few."
TVNZ Breakfast host Rawdon Christie said Warne was looking at his co-host Ali Pugh when he said that.
"Ali and I are now dating," Warne replied, getting a chuckle from the assembled media.
He then spoke at length on his great love of professional poker, before going on to give his tips for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
Australia and South Africa, as the top two teams in the world, are favourites for the tournament, he said.
But yesterday his co-commentator Bill Lawrie told Warne that he believed New Zealand could win it.
It got Warne thinking, and he now believes the Kiwis have the firepower to win it all, and has them as his dark horses.
"They've got a good young side, some dangerous players, some match-winners, and Baz McCullum is a dangerous player, and playing in their home conditions I think New Zealand are a real good chance."
He also believed that Dan Vettori's experience will help them greatly, while the underedogs tag will suit them if they manage the home country expectations.
While he spoke freely on his cricket tips, he was coy about today's punts.
"I've got lots of tips so far, but I'm not allowed to say apparently because a few guys are loading up on them," he said.
Warne said he was over from Australia with four other mates and planned plenty of golf during his stay.
Tomorrow he could be playing with former Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming in Queenstown at the Hills and Jack's Point, before heading up to Auckland to play Kauri Cliffs, and business meetings with his Moa who make his beer, 99 Not Out.
Today's racegoers will be eager to see if champion Canterbury pacer Terror To Love can create history win an unprecedented four cups in a row.
But many more will be here for the glitz and glamour of what is the highlight of the Canterbury social calendar.
Gates opened at 9.30am and the popular Lindauer Lawn, located right on the finishing post, was soon filling up fast.
All eyes will be fixed on the style stakes today too, with the Best Dressed Man and Best Dressed Lady, as well as body art, being judged in the afternoon.
The first race runs at 12.05pm - with the main event, the Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup set to run at 5.15pm.
A temporary liquor ban is in place from 9am to 10pm and covers several streets in the vicinity of the raceway.
Anyone breaching this and existing liquor bans can expect to be prosecuted.
Police are hoping for a well-behaved, good natured crowd at Addington Raceway today.
"Police will be working closely with security staff and licensees at the venue to keep an eye on the crowds and assist when needed," said Canterbury Police's deployment manager, Inspector Peter Cooper.
"We expect to be busy [today], particularly as Cup Day crowds move to the city's bars.
"Police want everyone to enjoy their day out and will be increasing patrols from mid-afternoon and visiting licensed premises around Addington Raceway and the Lincoln Road/Addington area."
The alcohol ban applies to the area bounded by Blenheim Rd, Moorhouse Ave, Lincoln Rd, Wrights Rd and Matipo St.
Christchurch City Council's events development manager Richard Attwood urged a responsible attitude to drinking during New Zealand Cup and Show Week.
"Addington's Christchurch Casino New Zealand Trotting Cup Day is one of the busiest days of the year for Canterbury, and it's in everyone's interests that all race-goers act sensibly so that everyone can enjoy the day," he said.
Addington is providing a free bus service for patrons leaving the racecourse from the Old Stables car park on Wrights Rd.
The Red Bus will drop off-course patrons to Riccarton Rd near Trevino's and outside McDonalds on Papanui Rd from 5.30pm, every half an hour through to 7pm.
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