Camels saddle up for cup race

AT A CANTER: The ever-popular camel races will highlight today’s Melbourne Cup celebrations at the Gympie Turf Club.
AT A CANTER: The ever-popular camel races will highlight today’s Melbourne Cup celebrations at the Gympie Turf Club. Craig Warhurst

THEY may not quite be up to the standard of the top thoroughbreds tearing around Flemington, but the camels at the Gympie Turf Club today will hit breakneck speed as they race around the sand track - or at least it will feel that way to the jockeys.

As part of Melbourne Cup celebrations, the club will stage six camel races throughout the afternoon, concluding with local identities battling it out in the celebrity calcutta race at 4pm.

"This is the 10th year we've held camel races for the Melbourne Cup, and it's always a very popular day," Gympie Turf Club president Spencer Slatter said.

While the gangly beasts can be unpredictable at the best of times, Slatter assures the jockeys will be safe with good saddles and a bar for them to hold on to.

Local businesses sponsor the camels in aid of Little Haven Palliative Care, while the annual Little Haven luncheon is sold out, with 260 guests helping to raise more funds for the organisation.

Slatter is expecting more than 1000 patrons to witness the action on the track and on the big screen, with all the races from Melbourne being broadcast - including the big one at 2pm.

The fashions on the field will also attract plenty of attention, with today being the second-last chance to go in the draw for $3000, to be announced at the club's last race meet on November 29.

While all the marquees are booked out, Slatter says there will be plenty of room for spectators to watch the highly entertaining spectacle.

Gates open 9am; entry $10 adults, $5 pensioners and under-18s free.

DON'T miss your Melbourne Cup guide in today's local paper and check out tomorrow for all the colour of local social events.

Topics:  camel racing melbourne cup

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