An unusual occurrence during the final horse race at Cessnock in New South Wales, Australia, on Tuesday afternoon had one jockey jokingly saying it was part of his winning strategy and another claiming it might have cost him a victory.
Midway through the 2,125-meter Hunter Jaguar Land Rover Benchmark 55 Handicap, a kangaroo unceremoniously bounded onto the track and, as you can see in the video, began running along the inside rail for a bit:
Fortunately the kangaroo managed to cut between the racing thoroughbreds without incident and return to the bush.
Jockey Robert Thompson, who rode Cunning As A Tiger to victory, told Sky Thoroughbred Central that the kangaroo's appearance was part of his "game plan" to take out the competition, according to The Daily Telegraph.
That isn't too far from the truth as far as jockey Serg Lisnyy is concerned.
Lisnyy, in the maroon and blue jersey, was leading the race when the kangaroo came from the bush outside the racetrack, hopped over the rail and joined the race.
“It was so close to me; I was running with it on the inside for about 150 meters or so before it just ran from the left to the right," Lisnyy told Caters News.
“As it ran across it was so close to the other horses, but it managed to get out unscathed.
“When I saw I was racing with a kangaroo, I was very surprised. I have never seen anything like that before and didn’t expect to be racing against an animal like that. It was a big, adult kangaroo and was good competition. I think it actually cost me the win."
Lisnyy ended up finishing in third place.
Steward Danny Greer told Caters the riders were aware of what happened, but he didn't think the kangaroo affected the outcome.
"I have heard of kangaroos being near racetracks before, but never have I seen a kangaroo keep up with the field for that length of time; it was about 150 meters," Greer told Caters.
“Usually they get scared if they see the horses and run in the opposite direction. But this one managed to maintain his position with the field before realizing what was going on and running away."
Thompson said it was fortunate no one was injured, adding "it could have been serious."