Camels run amuck
LACKING the burst of speed to carry Americain to victory in yesterday's 150th Melbourne Cup, the camels at the Gympie Showgrounds Racecourse proved just as entertaining.
The Gympie Turf Club again enjoyed a successful Melbourne Cup Day, celebrating in unique style the iconic race stopping a nation.
A jubilant crowd filled the stands for the day, dressed out in their finest race gear and eager to test their fortunes with the bookmakers.
A highlight of the day was the six-race camel racing program.
The first of the camel races got under way at 1pm in perfect conditions – unlike at Flemington where the Melbourne Cup field braved drizzle and a sodden track.
A celebrity race pitted local identities against each other in the battle for supremacy on the ships of the desert.
Boarding their rides, the camel jockeys were varied in their reactions.
Some were full of last-minute nerves while others flashed mischievous grins, staring down the track towards the finish line.
No matter the outcome, one thing was common among all of the races – laughter, and loads of it.
Punters in the stands doubled over in stitches at the hilarious antics unfolding before them.
Camels aren't the most obedient of rides and, unlike their horse counterparts, tore off in many directions in complete defiance of their rider's instructions.
Gympie Turf Club president Spencer Slatter said the day was “fantastic”.
“We have a big crowd and the weather couldn't have been more kind,” he said. “The Gympie public has really come out to show their support and we are thankful.”
Slatter said the camel racing was again a big hit with punters.
“It's a load of fun and a novelty, and people have a good laugh,” he said.
Meanwhile, fashions of the field was an outstanding element of the day.
More than 40 entries were received in the main event, with Gympie women again proving they have their fingers firmly on the fashion pulse.
An ultimate prize of $3000, to be given away at the final race meet of the year later this month, will go to one of the numerous winners so far this season.
“Fashions of the field has been a big part of the race meets this season and the prize giveaway will be a great way to finish,” Slatter said.
The Gympie Turf Club president said he didn't have success placing a bet, going with many on the much-hyped So You Think, but congratulated Gympie racing commentator Barry Fitzhenry on his winning tip.
“Barry was right on the money,” he said.
Slatter was not wrong. Fitzhenry has demonstrated a solid record with his tips this year.
While punters shrug off lingering hangovers this morning, the camels will wonder what all the fuss was.