Camel races attract record crowd

The bicycle powered shearing was a popular attraction at the camel races.
The bicycle powered shearing was a popular attraction at the camel races.

A record crowd of more than 5000 people watched Wookatook win the Forbes Camel Cup at Forbes Racecourse on Good Friday.

Trained by John Richardson of Yeppoon in Queensland and ridden by local jockey Jaye Davie, Wookatook took home the lion’s share of the $3750 prizemoney on offer in the 400m Camel Cup.

However, the real winners were almost certainly the event organisers, who welcomed the biggest crowd ever in the cup’s 11 year history.

Forbes Camel Races Secretary Lee Marsh yesterday said more than 5000 people enjoyed a “great family day” last Friday, witnessing eight action-packed races and a range of on-course entertainment.

Ms Marsh said “98.5 per cent” of the patrons were visitors to Forbes.

“It was a case of pick the Forbes person over there [at the racecourse],” she said.

The Camel Races committee held several lucky gate draws on Friday, which also told the organisers where the crowd had come from.

Gate prize winners hailed from Milton on the NSW South Coast, from Newcastle and from Canley Vale in suburban Sydney, but Ms Marsh said the event attracted people from all over the state and even overseas.

“I know we had a couple of people from Switzerland here,” she said.

Last year’s Camel Races attracted about 4500 people and had been the biggest prior to last Friday.

Children were entertained by the animal nursery, the St George Dragon and the SES Platypus and by attractions such as the emergency services gopher races, sponsored by Frank Spice and won by the Rural Fire Service crew.

“The SES finished second and the police were in chase of them all,” Ms Marsh said of the gopher races.

Musical group The Battlers played for the crowd at various times throughout the day and the pushbike shearing and sheep dog trials were also popular.

The Camel Races committee is comprised of members of the Forbes Rugby League and Forbes Jockey clubs and funds raised will be spread throughout the community to various organisations and charities.

A final tally of profits from the event had not been determined yesterday, but Ms Marsh expected the record crowd would translate onto the balance sheet.

“A lot of charities will do very well out of the day,” Ms Marsh said.

With the event growing each year, Ms Marsh said the committee looked forward to 2013.

“We’ll be back bigger and better for next year,” she said.