PICTURE GALLERY: Camel capers at Fakenham Racecourse

Carry on, follow that camel – and if you see a gap nip through...

There was comedy with a dromedary or two and wacky action with the Bactrians on Sunday as camels were put through their paces at Fakenham Racecourse.

Hot, arid and dusty it most certainly ain't - only hours before they lined up at the start with their riders the lush green turf was pounded by a Sunday afternoon hailstorm with even, some say, a bit of sleet mixed in. But it turns out the going at the Norfolk course is just fine... if, that is, you don't expect the quadripeds with the humps to negotiate the jumps.

Eight fancy dress-wearing good sports representing various north Norfolk pubs as well as Bolton's Bistro at the Cliftonville Hotel, Cromer, took part in qualifying heats... and then the real fun started.

In a laugh-a-minute final, the camels weaved all over the place at the start, before two unseated their riders.


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Zoe Fuller, for the Hoste Arms at Burnham Market, escaped the mayhem and cantered off ahead, with Amy Jane Gibson in hot pursuit for the Jolly Sailors at Brancaster Staithe.

Jimmy Thompson (Dabbling Duck, Great Massingham), clad head to toe in duck costume, gamely made it to the finishing post on Shanks's pony, fending off a rugby tackle from a spectator along the way. Meanwhile, Alex Vaughan-Jones (King's Arms, Blakeney), remounted and meandered home way behind.

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The unorthodox antics in the saddle at a course better known for National Hunt jockeys and their thoroughbred steeds took place after the serious business of the day was over at the West Norfolk Point to Point meeting.

And it was all in a good cause, for a sweepstake being held for the camel-racing raised several hundred pounds for the East Anglian Air Ambulance charity - a cause dear to the hearts of riders across the region. The tally was topped up by another �500 given by Juddmonte Farms, based at Newmarket.

Julie Abbs, secretary of meeting organisers West Norfolk Amateur Racing Club, said: 'It's all a lot of fun. We've had a good crowd today, and doing something for the air ambulance is our way of paying something back to a service that, living in the countryside as we do, we really do need.'

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