Sahara Trails racer wins Melbourne Cup of camel riding cup

Uncle Bob with his winning entourage at Tara.
Uncle Bob with his winning entourage at Tara.

 

PORT Stephens has produced a range of cultural and sporting heroes over the years – it can now add to that list Uncle Bob, Anna Bay’s newest camel racing champion.

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Uncle Bob is a product of the Sahara Trails stable of camels [and horses] that have been racing across NSW and Queensland in various carnivals for some five years.

Last month Uncle Bob, with Gulgong-based jockey Chontelle Jannese on board, took out ‘the Melbourne Cup of camel riding’, the coveted Tara Cup in spectacular style.

“It was a pretty amazing win for the team,” said the 34-year-old jockey who has been riding for the Sahara Trails camel owners Diane Gooley and Rodney Sansom for four years.

“There were six starters in the Cup final run over 600m and because Uncle Bob is a very assertive camel I let him sit in his favourite position, on the outside rail, which allowed him to sprint home in the straight and first past the post.

“It was particularly pleasing to win in front of a crowd of around 6,000 cheering fans.”

Uncle Bob is one of approximately 50 camels trained by Gooley and Sansom at their premises in both Anna Bay and Woodberry.

Ms Gooley said the camel race fraternity was growing each year, with a close-knit group of trainers competing in major events at Tara, Maree, Bedourie, Winton and Boulia.

“Camel racing is a growing industry and Tara is the Melbourne Cup of races, which also includes a three-day festival. This year the winner collected $4,000 in prizemoney plus the cup,” she said.

“We have a dedicated team of riders and support crew who travel to the outback towns to compete and participate in the various festivals.”

Racing camels are aged between seven and 27 so they have a long career in racing and they can run at speeds up to 45 kph.

According to Ms Gooley, the racing can get quite competitive but “at the end of the day we ensure they are well looked after and that it’s an enjoyable experience”.

 

By Charlie ELIAS

 

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