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:: The Melbourne Cup

This is what The Poet Gordon said on the Melbourne Cup - the race that stops the nation:

There’s a lull in the tumult on yonder hill,

And the clamour has grown less loud,

Though the Babel of tongues is never still,

With the presence of such a crowd.

The bell has rung. With their riders up

At the starting post they muster,

The racers stripp’d for the 'Melbourne Cup',

All gloss and polish and lustre ;

And the course is seen, with its emerald sheen,

By the bright spring-tide renew’d,

Like a ribbon of green, stretched out between

The ranks of the multitude.


(above) Plaque by Stanley Hammond '56 is situated under the Member’s Stand

10th OCTOBER 1868."

(above) Flemington Racecourse as it looked on 26 October 2006, in preparation for that year’s Melbourne Cup

Adam Lindsay Gordon was tall and weighed less than 10 stone.   He, himself said at the time that he was not fit to ride a donkey. He always had poor eyesight and could not see past his horses' ears. Like other jockeys of the time he rode with a long stirrup. He had to carry weights in steeplechases.

When taking a jump he would lean so far back that he would leave a mark from the horse's crupper on the back of his sweaty shirt.  His health had suffered from previous falls and from the recent loss of his daughter, Annie, (aged 11 months).  All of his business ventures had failed.  Tired of horses and riding, Gordon rode at race meetings now to get money to support himself and his wife.

At this meeting held on 10 October 1868 he also wanted to beat a horse belonging to George Watson who was in charge of the Melbourne Hunt Club.  Gordon went on to ride three winners:

  • He won the Melbourne Hunt Club Cup on Major Baker’s horse 'Babbler'
  • He won the Metropolitan Steeplechase on his own horse 'Viking'
  • He won the Selling Steeplechase on his horse 'Cadger' and sold it immediately afterwards at auction for ₤40.