Rain falls, but spirits high at Birdsville

·2-min read

Despite rain washing out the opening day of the Birdsville Races, die-hard punters are determined to make the most of their outback adventure.

Organisers cancelled the first day of racing due to a wet and muddy track on Thursday afternoon, just as thousands of visitors arrived in the remote Queensland town to mark the iconic meet's 140th anniversary.

A spokeswoman said the landmark Birdsville Cup will go ahead as planned on Saturday, with sunshine and higher temperatures predicted.

Rescheduling options are being considered for opening day events.

"Spirits remain high in Birdsville as thousands of punters flock into town," the Birdsville Race Club's Gary Brook said.

"The good news is we have sunny skies ahead of us, so after a day of forecasted sunshine tomorrow, we'll be back on track and running on Saturday."

Jenny Solomon, who travelled from Cooma in NSW, said it was a slippery drive from Windorah, 400km east of Birdsville, because of water on the road.

She arrived to find the campground wet and "dismal", with muddy cars and campervans, but spirits remain high.

"You come for the adventure. They're not going to risk people's lives, especially the jockeys," Ms Solomon told AAP from her campervan on Thursday evening.

"Everyone's up at the pub, there's campfires, flapping tarps, and AC/DC playing in the background."

The race first ran in 1882 with an audience of 150 stockmen and a prize purse of 200 pounds.

Now the $260,000, 13-race program attracts thousands to the remote town each year in a convoy of campervans, caravans and utes.

Trainers have come from far and wide, including western NSW, Darwin and South Australia.

Earlier this week, Mr Brook said the event tends to draw people back.

"It pulls at the heartstrings, and once you come along and experience it and see all the people, it becomes an annual pilgrimage," he said.

But it has been a rocky start for the races in a significant year. Earlier in the week, the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission suspended 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.