The Guardian, UK
Crowds cheered on the animals at the city's Harold Park Paceway. but could only put unofficial bets on the outcome of the six races, as camel racing is not recognised by Australia's leading betting organisation, TAB.
The novelty event was staged to recoup some of the losses suffered by the horse-racing industry after Australia's first outbreak of equine flu in August halted racing across the country. Hundreds of people in the industry have been laid off. Racing has restarted in three states under strict controls, but Sydney's lucrative spring racing carnival was abandoned five weeks ago.Equine flu is not infectious to humans but has a debilitating effect on horses and in rare cases can be fatal. Horses are being vaccinated against the disease.
The camel meet attracted hundreds of racegoers, and racecourse staff said they spent heavily in function rooms and bars. More camel race meetings are expected to be held. "There's been lots of raucous laughter. Everyone's had a good time," said a spokesman. "It's lifted everyone's spirits."
Camel racing is usually held in the outback and the animals racing in Sydney were transported from Queensland, where they normally perform for tourists. Camels were introduced to Australia in the early 1800s to help workers building railway and telegraph lines and were later released into the wild. There are now upwards of 600,000 in Australia.