Rain cancels first day of Birdsville Races

·2-min read

Rain has forced the Birdsville Races to cancel its opening day, after thousands of punters flocked to the outback Queensland meet for its 140th anniversary.

Five millimetres has fallen in the remote desert town since Thursday morning, according to the the Bureau of Meteorology, leaving the racetrack and campgrounds wet and muddy.

A spokeswoman for the Birdsville Race Club said there will be no races on Friday, but the 1600-metre Birdsville Cup will go ahead as planned on Saturday.

Minor flooding had stopped some travellers coming from Windorah, east of Birdsville, in recent days.

Hundreds of people took advantage of the delay to watch the International Yabby Race at the Western Star Hotel on Wednesday night.

Jenny Solomon, who travelled 2000 kilometres from Cooma in NSW, said it was a slippery drive from Windorah.

Ms Solomon said she arrived to find the campground muddy and "dismal", but most people are in good spirits and taking shelter at the Birdsville Hotel.

"I feel right at home here," Ms Solomon joked.

"It snowed at home recently, and I wouldn't be surprised if it started coming down here.

"They're not used to rain in these parts. All the cars and caravans are covered in mud."

It's been a rocky start to the races, with the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission suspending the licences of two participants amid an animal welfare investigation.

A photo posted on social media appears to show a jockey using a jigger, a taser-like device, on a horse during training.

"Allegations of animal cruelty are taken very seriously," a statement from the commission said, adding that a steward's inquiry continues.

Before the rain and the scratchings, the race club's vice president Gary Brook said organisers must be prepared for anything during an event in a remote town with thousands of visitors.

"You just have to roll with the punches," Mr Brook told AAP on Wednesday.

"There's only so much that you can plan for and control."