Historic racing trophy returns

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Historic racing trophy returns

Welcome return: the 1875 Melbourne Cup, Gratitude Post is coming back to the area.

WOOLAMAI Racing Club is set to house a famous piece of racing memorabilia dating back to the 1875 Melbourne Cup.
Bass Coast Shire Council has purchased the 1875 Melbourne Cup Gratitude Post, which was presented to John Cleeland for the winning horse ‘Wollomai’.
There was no Cup presented during those years, the Gratitude Post was the major trophy presented to the winning owners.
Council Arts and Leisure Manager, Jenny Churchill said Council had been working with the Woolamai Racing Club for the purchase of the Post.
“The Gratitude Post was advertised in the Trading Post and we negotiated the purchase of the trophy from a collector in Whittlesea,” explained Ms Churchill.
“The Gratitude Post will be exhibited at the racing track at Woolamai for all to see.
“The Post is an important part of the history of racing in the area and now it has been secured for future generations,” continued Ms Churchill.
The Ballarat Brewing Company presented the Gratitude Posts between 1875 and 1909 to the owners of the winning horse of the Melbourne Cup.
The Wollomai Gratitude Post was the very first Post presented and therefore is historically significant to racing in Victoria. 1875 is also the first year the race was run on a Tuesday rather than the Thursday, which had been the case previously.
“Council purchased the Gratitude Post through the discretionary funds of Councillors Duscher and Dowman and through an Arts and Leisure grant, for $3500,” said Ms Churchill.
The story of Wollomai is an interesting one, with the ownership of Wollomai before his win
questioned.
Cleeland descendants have long believed that Wollomai was born and raised by John Cleeland on his property on the Island, while McHaffie descendents have always thought that it was their ancestor who bred and subsequently sold Wollomai to John Cleeland.
The full history of Wollomai, the Gratitude Post and the newly named Wollomai room will be formally unveiled at the Woolamai Cup in February 2010.
Committee member of the Woolamai Racing Club, Wayne Churchill, said the hitching post would be located outside the newly named Wollomai room, which currently houses the clubrooms and bar.
“This was the actual trophy presented on Melbourne Cup day, there was no Cup presented in those years.
“The year 1875 was also the first year that the Cup was run on a Tuesday and it has been that ever since.”
“John Cleeland had to walk his horse to Melbounre for the Cup. It took three days.
“We hope to invite the oldest descendant of John Cleeland to open the facility. He is Harry Cleeland, who is 93 and living in a home in Phillip Island,” Mr Churchill said.
“We are in discussions at the moment and hope to have him here on Cup day.”

Short URL: http://www.thestar.com.au/?p=344

Posted by SiteAdmin on Dec 15 2009. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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