Getting a horse to Birdsville can be a hazardous exercise, but for Kym Healy it’s just another destination on an eventful outback journey.
No one in racing spends more time on Australia’s back roads than Healy.
The man who earned a formidable reputation in the bush as a camel racing trainer, has spent the past two months travelling Australia with a small team of horses.
Not for the first time, Healy set off from near Adelaide in early July to campaign in Darwin.
He then headed west, stopping off at Kununurra in far-north Western Australia on his way to the Broome Cup carnival a few weeks ago.
Healy, who trains the 2014 Darwin Cup winner Pretty Blonde, barely had time to unload his float when he got home before heading to Birdsville.
“I’ve done eleven thousand kilometres then another fifteen hundred to get to Birdsville,” Healy told AAP.
Healy won three races in Darwin, an achievement that came with considerable pain after he had his appendix removed and spent five days in hospital during the carnival.
One of Healy’s Darwin winners was Aussie Jack who led the Birdsville Cup field before finishing in the minor placing.
Aussie Jack has paid his way, winning more than $100,000, but it’s well short of some of Healy’s returns on the camel circuit.
“A good camel can win $300,000,” Healy, who trained five of the six winners during a camel meeting at Randwick a week before the 2000 Olympics, says.
Unlike thoroughbred racing, pedigree isn’t a consideration when trying to pick a good camel.
“I get them out of the wild,” Healy said.
“But they’ve got to be half silly, half mad. There’s no secret to training them. Keep them fit and fed is about it.”
The journey for the Birdsville Cup winner Fast Fella has also been a well-travelled one.
He started life at Rosemont Stud in Victoria, was good enough as a yearling to bring $200,000 in the sale ring but made his way to Queensland after four mediocre runs for Melbourne trainer Danny O’Brien.
Fast Fella has now found a place at Roma, almost 500km west of Brisbane, in a stable that is celebrating Birdsville Cup success for the second time.
“Winning my first one was a great thrill but this is bigger to do it twice,” trainer Craig Smith said after teaming up with Rockhampton jockey Adrian Coome.
Coome earned a national profile after winning 13 races on Our Boy Malachi before the horse known as the Rockhampton Rocket left his mark in Sydney and Melbourne.