FORGET the race that stops the nation.
This is a race so great it more than quadruples one small town’s population for one day every May.
The Great Nundle Dog Race saw hundreds of four-legged canines and their owners converge on the 300-person town for its biggest event on the racing calendar on Sunday.
The first Great Nundle Dog Race was held in 1979 when two local cockies raced their working dogs from the Peel River Bridge to the Peel Inn.
It’s an annual tradition that has been held ever since – and Sunday’s one-day event was bigger than ever.
The full-day program of sprint races for dogs and handlers attracted families from the local region as well as the Hunter, Sydney and North Coast.
All dogs great and small, in costume and not, competed across 20 races, including the House Dog Races, Mongrel Invitation Stakes and Juvenile Canine Mini Stakes.
There was the Doggy High Jump for dogs that knew how to jump onto the back of a ute, and the new Stumpy’s Circular Dog Derby, which saw dogs chase a fox trail around a circular enclosure.
“I’d say the calibre is pretty high today,” co-ordinator Bob Worley said ahead of the final.
The day culminated in the main race, The Great Nundle Dog Race, which is open to bona fide working dogs only.
District graziers and station hands pit their pride and joy working dogs against each other to keep the tradition alive of finding the fastest dog.
Tony Purcell won the bagging rights with Tatar, a two-and-a-half-year-old bred in Nundle by Cameron Douglas, with a time of 7.37 seconds.
For others, the event is about more than just racing. Seven-year-old Zac Galvin was among many returning competitors, with his rescue dog Millie.
“I like to see all the dogs race and see all their different sizes,” Zac said.
The Great Nundle Dog Race raises money for the Nundle Public School Parents and Citizens’ Association