The 2020 SeaLink Kangaroo Island Racing Carnival kicked off with a day of racing on Thursday, February 20.
KI Racing Club president Mark Turner said the crowd numbers and horses running were up from Thursday last year and there was a great atmosphere at the Kingscote track.
Interest in the races had been boosted following the devastating recent bushfires and SeaLink had waived ferry costs for trainers with multiple horses.
The racing carnival continued into the evening with the Aurora Ozone Hotel hosting the racing club's cocktail evening, where numerous items were auctioned off to raise funds for the bushfire appeal.
The Ozone Hotel on Friday evening was also hosting its street party on Friday evening, while racing resumes on Saturday, including the Dudley Wines Kangaroo Island Cup.
KI's two local trainers David Hall and David Huxtable meanwhile were pleased with their horses performances on Thursday, both getting a third place.
David Hall had three runners on Thursday but he was most pleased with his horse William's Quest that ran third over 1000m and would be racing again on Saturday over 1200m.
Trainer and breeder David Huxtable meanwhile was also pleased with the run by his horse Emilyor, which also ran third.
The win was all the more special as his son Justin Huxtable flew down from Brisbane to ride her in the race.
After Thursday races, he was able to give to his two new 2-year-old geldings Max and Fluey a jump-out barrier trial.
These two horses are out of his stallion Viola Ici, who is now standing at stud at his property Empress Park, that was impacted on by the recent bushfires with fencing and other infrastructure burned.
Fortunately, all his horses survived including his prize stallion Voila Ici, one of the highest performing horses running in Europe from 2008 to 2011.
Service fees for the big grey are $6600 and Huxtable is hoping a few mares will make their way over to KI to be covered by the stallion.
Thursday's races also saw the auctioning of the saddle used by jockey Dom Tourneur in his 2013 win at The Oaks on Maybe Discreet.
The saddle was purchased for $700 by Andrew Lepley on behalf of NT pastoralist Viv Oldfield, but then was immediately donated back to be auctioned again at the cocktail party with proceeds again going to the KI bushfire appeal.
The KI Racing Club is also donating all the profits from the 2020 carnival to the KI Mayoral Bushfire Relief Fund.
There was indeed a great atmosphere at Thursday's racing with among those enjoying day being a Canadian family from Vancouver Island.
Ray Irving, his wife Jessica Krog-Irving and children Portia, Archie and Alasdair had just spent 10 days holidaying on KI, as part of a three month Australian holiday.
Initially but unsuccessfully applying to volunteer for the RSPCA wildlife rescue program, the family decided to come to KI anyway to help the local economy.
The couple said they had thoroughly enjoyed the racing and Aussie culture.
Other highlights from the KI trip included visiting Will's Rare Breed farm that had been impacted on by fire, as well as swimming with dolphins near Penneshaw, seeing the birds at Raptor Domain and the beach at Emu Bay.
Thursday's races were also a chance to catch up and celebrate for local KI racing syndicate, who own the horse Gytrash, winner of the Group 1 Black Caviar Lighting Stakes at Flemington, beating Redzel, Loving Gabby and Nature Strip.
The syndicate includes Conrad Heaney, Neil Manoel, Heather McMahon, Simon Lovering, Chris Jones and Craig Warnest.
The KI connection is that Gytrash's trainer 68-year-old Gordon Richards is married to KI local Jacqui Heaney.
The syndicate is now looking forward to Gytrash's next run at the Newmarket Handicap at Flemington on March 7 where the prize money will be $1.25 million.
Also at the KI races on Thursday was SA footy legend Mark Ricciuto, who was doing his radio show later that evening from the Ozone Hotel.
Local photographer Peter Fuller snapped trainers Nicky Bruggemann and Paula Trenwith running their horses at Emu Bay on Friday morning.