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Louth puts on race meet to remember

Tuesday, 12th August, 2008

A massive crowd of about 6,500 turned out to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Louth Races on the weekend.

A number of locals made the journey along dirt roads from Wilcannia to join those who travelled from far and wide to watch the horses thunder past the winning post in a cloud of dust.

The tiny village, which has a population of 30, is situated on the banks of the Darling River about 100 kilometres south west of Bourke and 132 kilometres northwest of Cobar.Louth Turf Club Publicity Officer Liz Murray, of Trilby Station, said that she was delighted to see so many people at the event.

"It was the biggest crowd we've had by far," she told the BDT.

"We were 1,800 (people) up on last year."

And while the theft of a large number of wallets and phones from the Racecourse camping grounds in the early hours of Saturday morning threatened to ruin the weekend for some, Ms Murray said that police apprehended the offenders just outside of Bourke and were able to recover all the stolen goods.

"It was really unfortunate but luckily the police were on to it and everyone will get their goods back.

"The police did a great job."

The seven race program had prize money of $100,000 and the 79 starters did not disappoint keen punters.

"It was an excellent day of racing," Ms Murray told the BDT.

The winner of the 2,000 metre Creswell Memorial Cup was "Intheway", who travelled from Warwick in Queensland and was ridden by Greg Ryan from Dubbo.

Leading trainer for the day was Paul Banks from Bendigo in Victoria and Leah Arnold from Cobar won the fashions of the field.

And whilst the horses were a drawcard for many, the action did not stop away from the track.

Wednesday's Gundabooka Golf Challenge saw 97 golfers putt their way through the 9 hole outback golf course with the aid of just one club, which raised $5,040 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

On Thursday keen anglers took part in a fishing competition, and camp-oven cooks took part in the hotly contested Damper Bake Off.

Well known band The Simpsons, from Walgett, kept the crowd entertained at Louth's only pub - Shindy's Inn - until late on Friday night.

"They were terrific, the crowd loved them," Ms Murray said.

The camping grounds were also lively, with lively music and camp fire celebrations into the wee hours of the morning.

"There was a heavy police presence, but it was a really good crowd," Ms Murray said yesterday.

"We thought it all ran smoothly."

Ms Murray said that the popularity of the Louth Races is growing with each passing year and believes the event will be around for at least another 50 years.

"It's sort of becoming the place to go.

"A bit of an adventure, a dirt road trip.

"I think it's just a unique event - a tiny village on the banks of the Darling, situated in the middle of nowhere.

"It's just got that appeal because it's unique."

Proceeds from the event will be put back into the club to improve the existing facilities, and to ensure the prize money remains lucrative.

Meanwhile, an 80-page book detailing the history of the Louth Races, will soon be available.

"Around the Bend at Louth" will cost $22, plus $5 postage and handling. For details phone Anna McCorkle on (02) 6872 1226 or visit www.louthraces.com.

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