When a group of expatriate Aussies in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila decided that life without a racetrack just wasn’t the same as back home, they decided if they couldn’t get to a racetrack, they’d get a racetrack to them.
So they went in search of a bit of land on which a handful of work horses from their coconut and cocoa plantations could race around a temporary track one Saturday afternoon, while they and their mates enjoyed a flutter.
And so became Port Vila Kiwanis Club Charity Cup Day, a now-annual race meeting that, 25 years later, is like no other, attracting 10,000 world-wide spectators.
The pioneers of this event laid-out their first racetrack on a local cattle property. The day before they shoo-ed the cows away, used bamboo to make everything from the rails to the temporary toilets, and borrowed a pile of discarded builder’s scaffolding to construct the appropriately named Berocca Stand.
That first meeting in 1986 was a huge success, and next day, while assessing wins, losses and hang-overs, all the bamboo structures were burnt to the ground, the Berocca Stand dismantled and the cows brought home to graze.
The track site has changed a few times since then, and is now permanently located near the Vila abattoirs – which may be an incentive for horses and riders.
See also their Facebook page for more information.