Ad Glen BOss and Kyrraley Woodhouse with the 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup with Gunna the camel. (Jay Town Photography)

When Bossy took on the Boulia Camel Cup on the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour

27 March 2024 Written by VRC

Glen Boss has achieved remarkable success in racing, but does coming fourth in the Boulia Camel Cup hold the same significance as his three Melbourne Cups? The Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour ambassador had the chance to do just that last year.

When three-time Melbourne Cup winning jockey Glen Boss heard he might be going to Boulia as part of the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour, he had to look it up. And that’s coming from someone who was born in Queensland!

As far as remote communities go, Boulia is up there with the best 304 km south of Mount Isa in central western Queensland but somehow, each year, organisers manage to recruit a crowd to the iconic Boulia Camel Cup. On Saturday, 15th July last year, the 3000-strong crowd was a record attendance hosted by a community with a population of around 300. That’s extraordinary in itself. 

For the former champion jockey, Australian Racing Hall of Famer, and ambassador for the 2023 Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour, it was a unique experience.

“It’s the best out in Boulia,” said the champion rider who netted in excess of 2400 race wins and 96 Group 1 victories.

“Country racing anywhere is great but this event is totally unique to the outback in Australia.

“There are plenty of camels floating around and the following is just as strong.

“They are a funny animal to ride but being the competitor I am I was up for the challenge,” he added.

The Boulia Camel races are one of a growing list of cult-like events across the country attracting a loyal band of followers. It was a far cry also from Flemington, home to Glen Boss’s most revered triumphs, the 2003, 2004 and 2005 Melbourne Cups aboard the mighty mare, Makybe Diva. But for Boss, it is part of a growing group of bucket list events he and many others are attracted to each year.

“The outback is unique and having red dirt, camels and the Melbourne Cup is the perfect combination,” he said.

The Boulia camel races were first introduced back in 1997 and strongly supported by the Boulia Shire Council. It was preceded by a resurgence in camel races in the 1960s and 1970 profiled by the first 400-metre camel race in Alice Springs. Post that period, camel races have progressed with better prizemoney; longer races; microchipped camels; legal bookmakers and camels officially trained. Not quite a triple-crown series but enough to entice new players each year and develop a camel racing circuit. Especially in Queensland and the Northern Territory.

Glen Boss is one of a deep pool of ambassadors recruited each year to share their stories on the popular Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour. Last year, in its 21st year, the Tour visited seven countries and 41 destinations overall.  Boulia was one of seven destinations in Queensland alone.  Other Queensland communities included Thargomindah and Cunnamulla, former home to racing great Darby McCarthy, arguably the best indigenous rider this country has ever seen.

Following Boulia, Glen Boss continued his journey towards Mount Isa, a central Queensland mining town celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2023. It was not the first time the Cup had been to these parts but certainly the first to attract jockey Glen Boss.

The fascination of the Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour and those connected to it is as strong as ever when first started back in 2003. With ambassadors such as Boss, Jim Cassidy, John Letts and Corey Brown sharing their stories, there is no shortage of interest in hearing about what it takes to win a Melbourne Cup. Whether it’s Boulia, Birdsville, Brisbane or Bondi, the story of the Melbourne Cup is embraced far and wide by young and old.

The Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour is one of the most important initiatives of the VRC and since its inception in 2003, the three-handled Cup has travelled far and wide across Australia and the world, travelling over 900,000 kilometres, visiting more than 590 destinations, engaging with tens of thousands of people and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for local fundraising initiatives.

Applications to host this yea's Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour are now open. 

Come join the Tour in '24.