THE SPORT OF CAMEL RACING IN AUSTRALIA
Many people don't know that Camel Racing exists in Australia. The following is a brief explanation of what to expect.
Camel Racing in Australia differs from many other countries in that robot jockeys are not used.
Australian Camel Jockeys are both male and female, and always over the age of 15 years old.
Camel races in Australia tend to be run over sprint distances such as 400m, 600m and 1000m.
Race programs are generally set up beginning with each camel racing in a heat. Trainers can chose which order their camels race in the heats, but the finals are determined using different eligibility criteria. Trainers do not know which heats other trainers have entered particular camels into, and every race always has a separate official barrier draw.
Some race meetings are run with 1st and 2nd place getters going into "The Cup Final", 3rd and 4th place getters eligible for "The Plate Final" and 4th and 5th place getters allowed to race in "The Consolation Race". The three finals are generally run Consolation first, Plate second, then the Cup last on the program. As the Cup has the best racers running in it and the most prize money on offer for the race meeting, it is usually held last to provide a fantastic build up of excitement for all.
Another type of camel race program holds heats over two distances, with 1st, 2nd and 3rd place getters eligible for two separate Cup Finals. This type of program is generally targeted at attracting the best of the best Australian racing camels, and are most prestigious for winning camels, trainers, handlers and jockeys.
Most camel race meetings run a Calcutta before the Cup, and each Queensland race meeting has a book maker on course. Comparing the race times run in each heat is a good way to get an idea of which camel may be capable of winning "The Cup Final". Race times are also a way trainers decide which jockey rides their best camel in the Cup, so keep an eye on them.
The training of each team of camels can vary greatly, which appeals to onlookers on many levels, as not all racing camels comply with their trainers hopes on race day. From a spectators point of view, camel racing can be a most uniquely entertaining sport.
Remember the beasts can weigh up to 800kg, and stand at a height of 8 foot at the hump (one hump dromedary). They need a person to lead them to the starting barriers, which are just open front panels, and hold them in the barriers when all the racing camel wants to do is jump into a gallop. The camel jockeys have absolutely no way of steering or stopping their mount at any time before, during or after a race. And not all trainers have the knack when it comes to teaching racing camels to do everything right. So hold on for the ride and enjoy what has been said to be an extreme sport!!