Rule switch stops rocketing Regi in his tracks
- Annika Smethurst, Siobhan Duck
- Herald Sun
- July 13, 20127:44PM
Old Regi Boy gets cracking as Peter Hodge rides shotgun. Picture: David Caird Source: Herald Sun
UPDATE: COME hell or high water, Old Regi Boy is the Black Caviar of camel racing.
The 2.4m one-humped, Victorian-bred dromedary has won 65 of his 68 starts.
But Regi may have run his last race at the Melbourne Cup of camel racing, the Boulia Cup.
In fact there’s a chance the 31 camels registered for the anual race won’t run at all this year as rain once again threatens to marr the event.
Hailing from Cosgrove, 20km east of Shepparton, Regi was always an unlikely champion. He roams a 34ha property, surrounded by dairy and sheep farms.
But owner and trainer Peter Hodge has nurtured him into a champion who has dominated the mainly Queensland sport.
Regi has won five Boulia Cups. In 2010 he was backed off the map, paying $1.04 the win.
The unlikely couple came together in 2004 when Regi’s original owners gave him to Mr Hodge because they couldn’t handle him.
”I could tell Old Regi Boy would be a good racer. He has a strong shape and the right temperament,” Mr Hodge said.
”The good racers have attitude and are a little bit mad. But if you give them lots of care, lots of love, lots of good tucker, then they perform.”
Using training techniques such as chasing the 700kg behemoth around his property on a trail bike, Mr Hodge took Reggie to the pinnacle of their sport.
Unfortunately Reggie won’t be at the Boulia track this weekend.
Mr Hodge wrongly believed he would have to pay a hefty fee to train his camels at Boulia this year and so has not made the 2300km trek to far southwest Queensland for the first time in a decade.
Boulia Shire chief executive Vince Corbin said the council had always allowed the camel owners and rodeo people free use of its land for their anual functions.
”We even run free buses in and out of town for them while they’re there’,” he said.
”I don’t know how he got the idea that we would be charging any sort of fee. It’s not even in our draft budget for next year.”
Boulia Camel Races Association president Julie Woodhouse said it was a shame Regi would not be back this year but there were plenty of other camels – including four of of Regi’s former stablemates – in town for the event.
She said the Association had stopped offering a $500 incentive bonus this year to encourage camel owners to come to the event. But it hadn’t put many racers off coming along, she said.
She said there was a good chance that rain could postpone the races, which were due to start tonight (Friday), until the track was dry enough for the camels to run safely.
”It’s a shame Regi won’t be here this year, he’d be welcome,” she said.
”He is still the Black Caviar of our races.
”We had to cancel the races last year because of rain. The most important thing for us is the safety of the camels and their owners.
”People still had a good time (last year) and came back. Even if we can’t race there’ll be fireworks and plenty of other entertainment. We’re from bush. We know how to make the best of a bad situation.”