While hundreds of thousands of people turned their focus to the thoroughbreds at Flemington Racecourse, at the other end of the country animals of a different kind got all the attention.
In the Top End horses are out, while baby crocodiles, crabs and toads are in, as punters raise money for charity and put a bet on their pick.
‘Nowhere else in the world has crocodile races’
At Berry Springs Tavern, about 50 kilometres from Darwin, cane toads and baby crocodiles get ready to run the gauntlet.
Tavern manager Ian Sloan said the races were “uniquely Territorian”.
“This one just came out of my backyard last night,” Mr Sloan said of one of the toads.
“He’ll end up in the freezer at the end of the day. Ugly creatures but good fun.
“Jump on Google – crocodile racing isn’t anywhere else in the world.
“We’re the first here and I think people really get behind that.”
All profits from the races are donated to charity to fund leukaemia research.
“It’s a really good cause and great to see so many get behind us today,” he said.
Fastest frog wins
Dave Wheeler is the event manager of the Noonamah Frog Race, an event that has been running for 30 years.
“They’re green tree frogs that we’ve collected,” he said.
“We use them for the race then they’re released back where they came from – or back into the luscious, green beer garden that we have here.”
This year money raised in the frog race will be donated to Variety NT and Mr Wheeler said they hoped to hit $20,000.
“Basically, frogs get auctioned off, and they have little numbers on them,” he said.
“They get put into the centre of a big circle, and they’re released.
“It’s basically the first one over the line will win that heat.
“I think they do three or four different heats. With this rain, the conditions are looking really good out there. It’s nice and slippery.”
Mud crabs put through their paces
As well as frogs and crocs, local mud crabs are also put to the test at the Beachfront Hotel in Nightcliff.
Hospitality manager at the hotel, Chris Clarke, said they had 10 crabs per race with three races before the final.
“Things are certainly heating up down here at the Beachfront Hotel – they’re rearing and ready to go.”
Mr Clarke said the crabs were caught across the road in Rapid Creek.
“They’re all locals.”