Six-thousand racegoers cheered on mobs of camels as they galloped up the track at the Forbes Camel Races on Good Friday.
Severe tropical Cyclone Debbie couldn’t stop Yeppoon camel, Wookatook, who came out with the McDonalds Camel Cup after evacuating to escape mother nature in March.
Jockey Troy Richardson won his father and owner of Wookatook, John, $3750.
Now in its 16th year, organisers Lee Marsh and Kerry Dunstan described the races as a hugely successful family day out.
“It blows you away because after 16 years you would think ‘This is going to wane away,’ but it doesn’t,” Mr Dunstan said.
The pair hope the annual races, which draw spectators from all over NSW, continue as one of Forbes’ major tourism events.
“For 15 minutes we walked around trying to find a local. More than 95 per cent of the crowd come from out of town – a lot come up especially for the camel races,” Mrs Marsh said.
“They [racegoers] were from everywhere from the Gold Coast, Port Macquarie and Sydney to Dubbo, Wagga and Yass.”
Rodd Sansom from Oakfield Ranch said wild camels were the most popular choice for racing.
“Ninety nine per cent of the camels come from the wild camel population in Australia, they’re feral camels. That’s what we want for racing – we don’t want a pet camel. We want them young, fit, silly and strong,” he said.
Jockey Chontelle Janese said the most difficult thing with racing camels can be their unpredictability.
“Sometimes they might want to go in a different direction or zig zag around,” she said.
South Australian camel, Little Duke ridden by Old Mate Mick, won the Stuart Brown Memorial Plate.
Glenda Sutton’s Outlaw Bobaluie camel from Victorian won the Consolation Race of $800.
Lee Marsh and Kerry Dunstan thanked all the cameleers for their efforts and continued support.
For 2018, the pair are hoping to improve parking and move the last race and Calcutta to an earlier spot.