Camel racing at Badbury Rings

AND they’re off. I thought camel racing at the point-to-point was someone’s idea of a joke.

But today, at a steeplechase event arranged by the Countryside Alliance, there were indeed four camels, ridden (or clung on to) by members of the local hunts. Apparently, the inter-hunt camel race is quite a fixture on the horsey calendar, and these beauties were lent by a farm in the Cotswolds.

I was pretty gutted that we rolled up too late for the ferret racing. But there was plenty else to marvel at, not least the sea of tweed, flat caps, Hunter wellies, 4x4s and dogs, hundreds of dogs! This was a day out for the country set, horsey heaven, with champagne picnics out the back of Landrovers keeping out the cold (not us – we rocked up in a battered Volvo and contented ourselves with Thatchers and gameburgers).

What a great day out. Thrills (hooves thundering towards us), spills (quite a few riders tumbled off their mounts) and even a bit of politicking. Well, a general election is in the offing, so the Countryside Alliance was plugging its Rural Manifesto on the racecard, and a parliamentary candidate for a neighbouring constituency who took to the tannoy was voicing hopes for the repeal of the Hunting Act.

Next year I’ll get there earlier in time for the beagle chase, the inter-hunt horn blowing competition and falconry display. Good old-fashioned fun.

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