Two decades of Boulia racing for the ‘Queen of Camels’

Glenda Sutton riding at Boulia Camel Races 2017. Picture: supplied.
Glenda Sutton riding at Boulia Camel Races 2017. Picture: supplied.

Arriving in Boulia this week, Australia’s ‘Queen of Camels’ Glenda Sutton and her camel team, begin final training ahead of what will mark 20 years competing in the iconic Boulia Camel Races.

Training in residence at Boulia racecourse for the final 5-week lead in to the  July 20-22 Boulia Camel Races, Ms Sutton’s team of six racing camels includes both champions and new-comers. 

Champion racing camel ‘Chief’ returns with Ms Sutton to defend his 2017 Boulia Camel Cup win, which was one of his incredible nine consecutive race wins on last year’s camel racing circuit.

Boulia has become more than just another camel race to this champion camel trainer, who wishes for her ashes to be spread in the middle of the Boulia Racetrack, “because the best things that have ever happened to me, happened there,” Ms Sutton said. 

If 2018 is another successful year on the racing circuit, Ms Sutton’s total prize winnings would likely tip the$250,000 dollar mark, an impressive milestone across a 20 year career.

While she may shirk off references to her ‘Queen’ status, a track record of 252 wins out of a total 654 races speaks for itself, with 38 Cup Finals counting amongst them.

“Boulia is the biggest and the best,” Ms Sutton said. 

“The hardest race ever to win is that 1500m final and it’s the most prestigious, it’s the Melbourne Cup of Camel Races and I’ve won it four times now.” 

But this champion trainer insists she doesn’t need a win to enjoy the race, with the kisses lavished on her camels, a tell to her real motivation - that she loves her animals and the time she can spend with them in training.  

And there’s plenty of time for bonding, as Ms Sutton begins annual training six months prior to heading north for the Western Queensland racing circuit. 

Glenda Sutton a stop entoute to Boulia Camel Races. Picture: supplied.

Glenda Sutton a stop entoute to Boulia Camel Races. Picture: supplied.

Her annual trek to Outback Queensland from hometown Shepparton, Victoria, marks the trail for the thousands of interstate tourists to follow, who themselves will soon hit the highways to head to the tiny town of Boulia. 

With a mere 300 residents, the deluge of visitors for the Boulia Camel Races is a welcome event and marks Boulia’s tourist high season for the year. 

The welcome put forward by the town is sincere, with two whole weeks of free camping at the racecourse offered to any traveller who holds a tickets for the races, with camping open from 15 to 27 July 2018. 

Travellers are encouraged to take advantage of early-bird ticket prices, pre-purchasing their tickets from the event website.

The event’s camel tagging competition is completely unique to Boulia and sees event-goers try their hand at ‘tagging’ a camel in the arena in the fastest competitive time, often with hilarious results and a face full of dust for the brave tourists. 

In an interesting homecoming, camel ‘Little Tower’ who will race in Boulia for the first time this year in Ms Sutton’s team, was actually discovered by the camel trainer when he was one of the young untrained camels in the camel tagging at the 2010 Boulia Camel Races.

Eight years on, ‘Little Tower’ returns to Boulia well trained, mature and with a real chance at a win, having recently won a race in Forbes, NSW.

‘Little Tower’ is joined by ‘Congo Red’, ‘Ace’ and veteran camel ‘Outlaw Bobaluie’ who is returning to Boulia to race for his 19th consecutive year.

Any wins on the racetrack won’t come at Boulia Camel Races, as local Boulia Camel Trainers are joined by Camel Racing Teams from across Queensland and interstate to contest the Cup and prize pool in the ‘Melbourne Cup of Camel Races.’

On the trackside, race-goers will enjoy a three day program of events, including live performances from Mick Lindsay, Pink Tribute Band, Owen Blundell and The Roo Wranglers, plus novelty events including the Great Australian Ride-on Lawnmower Competition.

The program of events, tickets and camping information can be found at www.bouliacamelraces.com.au