Camel racing is one of the most entertaining and lucrative sports in the Middle East. Camel racing events are known to reach a staggering 57 million dollar prize money; some racing camels are worth millions of dollars.
In Australia, the prize money is a lot more humble than that, but not any less entertaining.
And for every camel race to be organized properly, a clear set of guidelines is required.
Here are some of the main camel racing rules when it comes to Australia.
Camel Racing Rules
- The minimum age of a camel allowed to race is three years. Male bull camels are allowed to race up to five years old if they are not in a rut.
- To be allowed to race in the main event, camels must first qualify in a preliminary contest (heat) that consists of several shorter races.
- All camels must be declared healthy, fit for racing, and without any impairment.
- Any camel that is considered unfit by the Chief Veterinarian will be removed from the race.
- Administering a camel with prohibited, performance-enhancing substances will also result in disqualification from the race.
- Camels must be made available for a random health check at any time if requested by the race committee or a veterinarian.
- All camels need to have a clearly visible number painted on both sides of their neck.
- Each camel is ridden by a jockey that needs to be a minimum 15 years old at the time of the race.
- Before the race, all participants are required to sign an indemnity form.
- Every jockey is required to wear a protective helmet that meets Australian Safety Standards.
- All jockeys are required to wear appropriate clothes: riding boots or elastic-sided boots must and the use of jockey colors is mandatory.
- Racing crops are allowed but have to be the ones used in horse riding.
- Spurs and electro-shocking devices like jiggers are strictly forbidden.
- Jockeys, handlers, and stewards are not allowed to participate under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Prior to and during the race, a camel can be controlled either by a nose peg or a draw chain.
- All camels need to be mounted by jockeys and then led to the starting position by a handler. A handler can lead one camel only.
- The rider is not permitted to dismount unless in an emergency.
- Each camel starts from a previously assigned starting barrier.
- Before the race starts, any part of a camel’s head or body is not allowed to cross the starting line.
- If a camel breaks away before the start, it must be stopped and within 55 yards (50 m) or might get disqualified.
- Owners, trainers, handlers, jockeys are expected to be civil to race officials at all times.
- The race starts when the pistol is fired.
- During a race the jockey must not interfere with other camels and riders.
- The winner is the first animal to cross the line.
- This year’s winner automatically qualifies for next year’s race.
In the Middle East, using human jockeys is forbidden and they are replaced by robots that are placed on top of a camel.
They are basically a reworked drill that has a plastic whip on it and can be controlled manually.
And there you have it, the main rules of camel racing in Australia.
Camels must be at least 3 years old to be able to race, and jockeys 15. Jockeys must wear protective equipment before the race, and camels need to be declared healthy to participate. After the pistol is fired, a camel race can start. Races range from 1/4 mile (400 m),1 km to the 2 km final. The winner is the camel that crosses the line first.
Camels used for racing in Australia are Dromedary feral camels that were imported in the 19th century to the continent. They did not originate there.
If you want to learn more about these animals, we have a whole article on interesting Australian feral camel facts, but also on some fun camel racing facts – make sure to check them out.
 Wilson, George R. “Australian camel racing.” Canberra: Rural Industries Research (1999).