Birdsville races postponed to next year

The outback Melbourne Cup, Birdsville Races, postponed to April 2022

Horses
POSTPONED: The 2021 Birdsville races will be held in April next year.

POSTPONED: The 2021 Birdsville races will be held in April next year.

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Organisers say they made the difficult decision in response to the ongoing border situation.

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The Birdsville Races has been postponed to Sunday 10th and Monday 11th April, 2022.

The iconic event was expected to be held next month, on September 3rd and 4th.

Organisers say they made the difficult decision in response to the ongoing border situation.

"We are now less than a month away from the event, and more than 85 per cent of our ticket holders reside in locations that are interstate and unable to currently enter Queensland, or in lockdown or discouraged from travelling to regional Queensland," Gary Brook, vice president, Birdsville Race Club said.

"The fact that key staff and contractors cannot make it to Birdsville now also jeopardizes our ability to stage a successful event, when announcing the end to the South-East Queensland lockdown on Sunday, the Queensland premier pleaded with people not to travel to regional Queensland."

"It's not what we wanted to do but it is the responsible decision.

"To run the 2021 Birdsville Cup in 2022 is unprecedented but if its good enough for the Olympics, it's good enough for us."

The Birdsville Races, known as the Melbourne Cup of the outback, have been held since 1882 and have only been cancelled twice in the events history - due to equine flu in 2007, and then the pandemic in 2020.

The event's committee said the main reasons for postponing the event were because of the remote location, lack of medical facilities, and pressure the races put on local businesses.

Birdsville Hotel general manager Ben Fullager said that local businesses backed the decision.

"We fully support the decision to postpone the Birdsville Races," Ben Fullagar, General Manager of the Birdsville Hotel.

"While the event is important to our business and such a fun part of our annual calendar, nothing is more important to us than the health of the small community in which we operate and the health of our patrons.

"We appreciate that the decision to postpone has been made with enough time to allow us to manage our stock and staffing appropriately."

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Stephan Pursell, Birdsville Police Station, said authorities were looking forward to delivering a safe event next year.

"Local police will always work with stakeholders to ensure the ongoing health and safety of their communities, which is paramount in these uncertain times.

"Police look forward to supporting a bigger and better event in April 2022," Mr Pursell said.

Mr Brook said the April dates will allow for the current COVID situation to get "under control" and provide better conditions for the horses to run.

"Unfortunately going any later this year would be far too hot for the horses and our camping ticket holders. Our unique racetrack is in the Simpson Desert, and the temps regularly hit 45-50 degrees as we head into summer," he said.

"We've gone with April next year when we'll have lovely temperate weather similar to what we have in September."

Demand for tickets to the 2021 event was huge, with first release tickets selling out on the first day they went on-sale.

Patrons who purchased tickets for the 2021 and would like to attend the postponed event don't need to do anything.

Existing tickets remain valid, and all customers will be resent tickets closer to the new event date.

If ticket holders are unable to attend the rescheduled event, refunds will be offered.

Additional tickets for the revised event date will be released in October 2021 while tickets for the September 2022 Birdsville Races will go on-sale in early 2022.

The iconic township of Birdsville, with a general population of just 115, plays host to the renowned 13-race carnival, with those who make the pilgrimage to Australia's most remote town treated to a jam-packed weekend of thoroughbred racing, fun at the Birdsville Hotel and unique outback entertainment including an outdoor cinema under the Milky Way, live music and Fred Brophy's famous travelling boxing troupe.

The event also supports the important outback medical work of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

The on-sale date of tickets to the 2021 Birdsville Races will be announced in the coming months with race entry and trackside hospitality options also available for pre-purchase.

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