...quick on the draw & splendid

Ridge Races

Over a century ago, Lightning Ridge's woolgrowers threw caution to the wind and decided to settle the age-old debate: who had the speediest horses in the north-western district? Little did they know that their quest for racing glory would transform the Ridge into a global hub for stunning opals. Owners and managers of colossal stations enthusiastically turned their attention to training thoroughbred stockhorses for the competition. Even those with racehorses elsewhere orchestrated a grand equine migration to the 'Ridge for the inaugural event on Easter Saturday in 1911—a date so easy to remember that the club hasn't forgotten it since.

The debut race day was a smash hit, delivering not just pulse-pounding entertainment for the district but also a chance for everyone to show off their fashion prowess at the racecourse and the subsequent ball. These events were so charmingly reprised in heritage style during the Lightning Ridge Race Club's Centenary celebrations in 2011 that they almost had folks trading their opals for top hats.

Fast forward to today, and Lightning Ridge has become a tourist magnet, luring visitors from all corners of Australia for its Easter Festival filled with action. Attendees get to revel in the quirkiness of a friendly bush meeting conveniently set right in town, behind the iconic, oversized bowling club. With the only straight (1200m) track in Australia, the Ridge races boast a crowd of approximately 1500 characters, ranging from opal-dirt-caked stubbies and thongs to Randwick high fashion. It's like a fashion show where the runway happens to be a racecourse, and the models occasionally neigh.

In recent years, the zealous committee has turned Lightning Ridge into a racing paradise, upgrading the track and facilities to attract larger fields of horses, some journeying from places as distant as Goondiwindi, Mudgee, Cowra, Cunnamulla, and Tamworth. The pièce de résistance of the six-race program? The Opal Bracelet, a prize so magnificent it could probably blind you with its sparkle, valued at a cool $15,000. Who knew chasing after horses could be this stylish and hilarious?

words courtesy of Racing NSW Country

Regular price $55.00
Regular price $55.00
Regular price $40.00