Camel races were one of the most popular events on the Gunnedah Show calendar this year – and not just for the jockeys riding them.

Ringside spectators watched on in equal part amusement and intrigue as the camel riders negotiated the show arena course.

The retired racing camels on show at Gunnedah were supplied by Rodney Sansom’s farm near Newcastle.

Mr Sansom has spent much of his life around camels – both on the professional camel racing circuit in far western Queensland and at exhibition events such as Gunnedah.

“I’ve grown up with the shows since I was a boy,” he said.

“We do a lot of show events, camels and wagons, and horses.

“This year we did a big stage coach hold up at the Newcastle Show.”

Mr Sansom’s camels also compete at the annual races at Bedourie, Boulia and Winton. This year he will also make an appearance at the Tara camel races in Queensland’s Western Downs region.

He enjoys the professional circuit but is conscious that if the camels don’t win, he doesn’t make an income either.

The agricultural show races, however, help keep the business running.

“The shows don’t usually get me every year, maybe every second year to make something different,” he said.

“At Albion Park the first time they got me, they said we’ll have you for two years – they ended having me back four years in a row.

“I’ve been there about 10 times now.

“Hopefully everyone loves [these show events], everyone is cheering in the crowd.”

Shortly after the camel races had completed their initial heats, whipcrackers warmed up for the show competition.

Among them was four-year-old Thomas Ezzy.

With two whips in hand, young Tom was cracking like he’d been doing it for years – and it turns out, he has!

Tom’s mum said the youngster, who only recently celebrated his fourth birthday, started whipcracking when he was just two years old.

Tom placed second in under 10 years show event, behind Mason Dunkley in first and ahead of Matilda Tyne in third.

The under 16 years whipcracking event was won by Cooper Ross, second was James King and third, Cameron Yianakis.

Sarah Stewart took out the open division, Cooper Ross placed second and Callum Poole, third.

More whipcracking events are planned at the Kurrumbede Open Day and Boggabri Drovers’ Campfire.

On the other side of show arena at the woodchopping competition, Phillip Waters was busily preparing for his next round of competition at Gunnedah.

The woodchopper from Denman recently placed second in the 375mm World Championship Underhand Final at the Sydney Royal Easter Show.

Despite Waters’ having competed at the highest level, he said country shows like Gunnedah still held a special place in the heart for the veteran competitor.

“It’s a good show here,” he said, before adding that he also had to keep the up-and-coming woodchoppers in check as well.

“You can’t let the young fellas beat you,” he said with a smile.

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