Local races in deep water: party atmosphere as Deepwater soaked

RARE SIGHT: Nikita Owen walks through a puddle at the Deepwater races. Pictures: Andrew Messenger
RARE SIGHT: Nikita Owen walks through a puddle at the Deepwater races. Pictures: Andrew Messenger

They came for the races, but without a horse in sight Deepwater's massively expanded population had to find something else to celebrate.

They chose the rain.

With an estimated 1700 visitors, the town of Deepwater tripled in size over the weekend for the town's biggest annual event. Some traveled from as far as Sydney, the UK and even Cuba - though this last claim was after a beer or three.

And with dozens of millimeters of water falling on the drought-stricken town over the weekend it was a carnival atmosphere for the northern New England's biggest race meet, horses or no horses.

Beer flowed freely from the Deepwater brewery's taps, bands played on late into the night as a crowd of hundreds watched the next best thing to a real horse race.

Dozens of dressed-up women, men and children took off in waves down the muddy final stretch in the first ever 'Deepwater Gift', at one stage bowling over the Examiner journalist in the mad rush.

Lindy Stevenson fashions on the fields coordinator said there wasn't a soul complaining about the wet conditions in a town that has had barely a drip in a year.

"No, God! It's just so good to see some moisture to be honest, we can't complain about that."

Ironically the races were initially to be canceled due to lack of rain, she said.

"How typical of life on the land!

"Until two weeks ago it was incredibly dry and then the track had a 15mm and a 20mm so it's been really lucky.

"We live 10km away and we didn't even have that at home!"

Numbers were understandably down about half from their usual 3000 plus through the gate. But the event still rivalled an equally damp Glen Innes Cup.

Why are the races such a success for the small town? The Fashions coordinator and wife of Doug Stevenson said it's a bit of a mystery.

"I don't know!

"I'd like to know so that we can bottle that. I think we're just really fortunate, I think the time of year is really good because we have a lot of uni people home on holidays.

"Because it's more a relaxed atmosphere and a bit more casual and I think that's perhaps what people want in a race meeting."

Contemporary Fashions on the field winners were Casey Hogan from Glen Innes, Enya Hutchinson in second and third place Alicia Bussell.

Most stylish gentlemen winners were Cameron Newman from Gilgai, Aidan Bishop in second place and Clark Forbes in third place. The prize was in honour of Deepwater local the late David Townes.

Most elegant lady was won by Nouveau White from Inverell, Katrina Bullock from Gilgai in second and Debbie Jarrett from Deepwater in third.

Most stylish couple were Justin Power and Casey from Glen Innes, Cameron Newman and Katrina Bullock from Gilgai in second and Cody Campbell and Dayna Hourn from Glen Innes in third.