The 139th Birdsville Races kicked off today in a plume of dust, scorching heat, trackside colour and wild and wacky fashion, as thousands of punters converged on the tiny town on the edge of Outback Queensland’s Simpson Desert for Day 1 of the ‘Melbourne Cup of the Outback’.
Returning for the first time since 2019, the iconic two-day race meet is being held as a history-making one-off in April as the 2021 postponed September event runs today and Monday with a field of 84 entries across a 13-race program.
Horses, trainers and jockeys from as far afield as Mackay (QLD) Strathalbyn (SA), Blackall (QLD) and Darwin flocked in for Outback Queensland’s richest two-day race-meet, with racegoers dressing to the nines in fancy frocks and outlandish costumes.
The 38 degree heat was the hottest on record in recent history for the running of a Birdsville Races on the Simpson Desert track, with both horses and jockeys enjoying a cold hose down post races.
“It is so great to be back and supported so well by the thousands who travelled to join us at this special edition of the Birdsville Races. It was hot, but didn’t slow the horses or the fun off the track. The excitement was palpable among racegoers, trainers and jockeys alike, and – after this weekend – we can look forward to the September 2022 races,” said Gary Brook, Vice President, Birdsville Race Club.
As in previous years, Fashions on the Field was an opening day highlight, with novelty dress competitions for men, women and children. Children also enjoyed the new kids play area with puppet making and story-telling.
Another highlight of the day was apprentice jockey Shae Nielson picking up her first ever race win to the delight of the crowd. Her win on Rosaraya also delivered trainer Todd Austion a winning trainers double and the first of two $2000 trainers bonuses awarded on the day.
Of her win an excited Shae said, “I’d like to thank Birdsville for putting on a great couple of days. I will never forget this win and hope that I can come back again and ride at Birdsville. it’s been more than I ever thought it would be.”
Tomorrow sees the 2022 race program culminate with the headline 1600m TAB Birdsville Cup, which this year offers a record $42,000 prize-purse.
The April 2022 Birdsville Races offer a record combined prize-purse of $262,500 across the two days of racing, as well as offering what they believe is the single biggest trainer bonus in the history of Country racing in Queensland.
The bonuses offered to trainers across both editions of the April and September 2022 Birdsville Races are also believed to be the biggest in the history of Country racing in Queensland.
If a trainer wins both the April and September 2022 TAB Birdsville Cup races, they will receive up to $15,000 in bonuses.
Punters across Australia are able to experience all action from the Birdsville Races from the comfort of their own homes, thanks to a renewed national telecast deal between the Races and Sky Racing. The partnership will see the full 13-race line-up televised into homes nationally via Sky Racing.
The Birdsville Races are supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.