Australia Day races on Kangaroo Island | PHOTOS

The Kangaroo Island racing season kicked off with “Racing at the Cygnet” on Australia Day.

The race meet was the first event of the SeaLink KI Cup Carnival, which sees the racing continue on Thursday, February 14 and Saturday, February 16.

The first KI race meet each year is always a fundraiser for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and the $5 gate fee went to this worthy service.

There was a great field of about 50 horses running in the six-race meet, with the added incentive of the Arthur Daw Memorial Trainers Challenge and KI Air Freight Jockey Challenge that both run over all three meetings. 

Not needing any temptation to come over to Kangaroo Island was the Ratsch family from McDonald Park near Gawler, who having been coming over to the KI races for 23 years.

The family was celebrating their horse Emmy Award winning the first race of the day. 

“I’ve been coming over since I was a boy and I love this place,” 27-year-old Ryan Ratsch said. “ I want to retire here.”

Also loving the KI Cup Carnival was Jacki Anderson from Goolwa, whose horses train at Brookman Park.

“It’s awesome,” she said, “It’s the atmosphere, definitely the atmosphere and it’s just relaxing.”

She and the other connections were camped out in the trainer’s camp at the back of the racecourse. The trainers had also been taking their horses to Emu Bay beach each morning. 

The event attracted the locals but also visitors such as Loch Howe from Yarrawonga, Victoria and Charlie Vaughn, from Wagga Wagga, NSW, who were over a week of camping, but decided to come to the races.

Saturday’s race was a non-TAB meeting but there were bookmakers and the tote van trackside.

The track and facilities are looking magnificent thanks to work of curator Mick Zander and the KI Racing Club volunteers, who will continue their working bees each Sunday. 

Punters on Saturday had a choice of food provided by Western KI Lions Club, 5KixFM radio crew and the volunteers from the KI Health Care Auxiliary.

Motor Accident Commission, Turner Tyres and KI Transfers will sponsor free Kingscote bus transport for all three race meets with KI 24/7 Bus Charters providing the service.

Get your SeaLink KI Cup Carnival booklet at locations around town, including Turner Tyres and the Aurora Ozone Hotel. 

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