A speedy camel named Trigger has galloped to victory at an annual race at Uluru, leaving his competitors to eat his red dust.
About 1000 people gathered in the country’s Red Centre on Saturday, May 27 to watch the champion male sprinter take the Camel Cup.
They may plod leisurely through the sand dunes with tourists in tow for their day job, but on race day 17 beasts got to run wild and put on a show in the shadow of Australia’s most iconic landmark.
Trigger exploded like a shot off the start line to take home the title for the fourth straight year.
He was ridden by the only female jockey in the final nail-biting showdown and the first woman to win the shiny silver cup.
Judy Crompton, 26, said it was the best ride of her life.
‘‘You little gun! Yes! Can I have a beer now?’’ she said.
Trigger’s biggest threats were two rookie wild cards named Abdul and The Golden Nugget, while dark horses Spinifex, Ned Kelly and Sexy Rexy never stood a chance on the 300m race track.
Veteran racer and 2012 cup winner Lazy Daisy has held the impressive record of 63km/h for six years but was knocked out in the first heat.
The local cops were clocking their times from the sidelines with a hand-held speed camera.
Camels have notorious attitudes, and some competitors got feisty at the starting line and bit their handlers.
‘‘Trigger has a strong personality — he’s not a socialite, put it that way,’’ event founder Chris Hall said.
Every camel has a different sized hump, and Mr Hall said male jockeys must take extra care if their rides come out of a gallop or buck during a race.
‘‘Timing is essential. If a bloke rides out of rhythm, let’s say the only thing they’ll be doing that night is drinking,’’ he said.
‘‘A frozen packet of peas might be needed afterwards.’’
The risk of such mishaps doesn’t scare jockey Mickey T, who was runner-up on The Golden Nugget.
‘‘It looks dangerous but I love the excitement and the adrenaline rush,’’ the 32-year-old said.
‘‘It’s a great place to live and work out here, Uluru is my backyard.’’
It’s the region’s biggest event of the year, with wheelbarrow, tyre and sack races, a camel poo-throwing competition and Fashions on the Field, Territory-style.
Women in fascinators parade their stilettos through the red dirt while blokes in singlets and thongs swig beers and cheer on the races.
Mr Hall, wearing a three-piece suit in the desert heat, said the outback racewear gives Flemington a run for its money.
‘‘The girls do a fantastic job at sticking it up at Melbourne,’’ he said.
Punters emptied their piggy banks the night before at the local pub to bid on their favourite camels at the Calcutta auction.
The winner raked in a share of the $20000 prize pool.
After the main event, betters dusted off their boots and hit the red dirt dance floor at the Frock Up and Rock Up Ball held at the camel farm.
‘‘There’ll be a lot of beers, getting drunk and a lot of yarns being tossed around,’’ Mickey T said before the ball.
Running in its sixth year, the Camel Cup is a tourism drawcard that boosts the local economy in the shoulder season.
‘‘The hotel is at full occupancy so people have been swagging it and pitching tents,’’ Mr Hall said.
‘‘It brings the whole community together.’’