Thoroughbred racing is oft referred to as the sport of kings and as such, watching camels snort and plod their way down a racetrack must be the sport of the jesters.
Rarely, if ever, will you see a crowd roar in unison as a galloper passes the post in last place, a full 13 seconds behind the victor.
That’s what happened in the sixth of Sunday’s bumper eight-race program at Towac Park though, the curtain-raiser to the main event.
The Orange-trained Ruby battled her way down Towac Park’s straight to finish last, well behind eventual winner Clancy.
But as she passed the post with a roar – akin to that of a lion with bronchitis – the massive crowd roared with her, possibly celebrating the fact she’d even decided to run at all.
“It’s anybody’s guess where they’re going to run. You could have reins on them but you’ll steer them one away and they’ll go the other,” Ruby’s trainer Beau Brazier laughed.
“One at Forbes (on Friday) just took off the wrong way, one a few years ago sat down 10 metres from the finish when it was winning and the others went around them.
“That was only the third start Ruby’s had, she’s only five. They don’t really start racing until they’re about 10 or 12 and then live until about 60.
“She’s only young and small, she’ll get bigger and get better. She’s starting to run alright, she’ll be back next year and she’ll be better.”
Preparation wise, Ruby’s lead-in wasn’t much better than the run. But, as Brazier said, it’s tough to train a camel anyway.
“It’s luck of the draw, the camel’s instinct, I don’t think anyone would tell you the same thing if you asked them how to train a camel,” he said.
”There’s not a great deal you can do really. Keep them quiet, try not to get bitten or kicked, that sort of stuff.
“But we’re also not here for the money, it’s a bit of fun, a novelty, for us. The professional guys, you know, they’re working the camels every day.”
With camels racing from all over the country and a gigantic crowd on hand to watch, a predictable winner came out on top of the feature race, only adding to his reputation as the camel racing godfather.
John ‘Richo’ Richardson’s big dromedary Wookatook, fresh off a win in the Forbes Cup on Friday, plodded its way to a second win in three days.
“Wookatook, it’s an old camel, it knows racing,” Brazier said.