Stakes are high in test of udder speed
Those who think the Australia Day long weekend is all about lamb need to mooove over – these cows mean business.
Some of Australia’s beefiest jockeys will saddle up for the nation’s only cow race on Saturday, January 27.
About 4000 people are expected to attend the Compass Cup in the small township of Mt Compass – about 50km south of the South Australian capital Adelaide – in the middle of the Australia Day long weekend.
The Compass Cup has run every year since 1974 at the town’s main oval to celebrate the region’s proud dairy farming industry.
The day will also include other dairy farming-inspired events for adults and children, including a milk drinking competition (pictured below), wobbly cow race and rubber boot throw.
But the main attraction is undoubtedly the cow racing, which is a dash – or a waddle – down a 60m track marked out on the town’s main sporting field.
Spectators can bid to own a racing cow for the day with teams of four including a jockey to sit atop the cow and two handlers to hold on to the cow’s lead ropes as it steadily makes its way down the course.
The untrained cows perhaps get the biggest surprise of all as they are randomly chosen from a local dairy on the morning of the race.
Compass Cup committee member and local dairy farmer Mathew Campbell said it was hoped that holding the 2018 event on the long weekend and not clashing with the popular Tour Down Under – which it previously has – would help attract a few new visitors.
He said the fact that all of the events were open for anyone to participate in on the day added to its unique nature.
“It’s been an event with families at its core in the past and we want to keep it that way,” Campbell said.
“Most of the people who come have been before and just keep coming back and we get a lot of overseas tourists too – they think it’s a bit whacky.
“The whole day is about making money for the community and having fun.”
The event also features farming demonstrations such as sheep shearing, cow milking and a farm machinery parade.
“The last few years we’ve made a conscious decision to try and bridge that country/city divide,” Campbell said.
“Agriculture is a big part of Australia’s past and a lot of people say now that since the end of the mining boom the country’s running on agriculture again.”