The first Great Western Steeplechase took place in Coleraine in 1858, and was the first steeplechase race in Victoria, and the oldest in Australia. The original course, laid out by Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh and Tom Clibborn (later AJC secretary) covered four miles with 42 natural post-and-rail fences, ranging in height from 4 ft to 4 ft 6 in with two higher fences at the start, and one lane fence about 5 ft high. The circular course went over ploughed fields and timbered undulating country, described as ‘fair hunting country’, down through Coleraine’s gardens and backyard fences behind the main street.
Australia’s national poet – trooper, parliamentarian, and horseman – Adam Lindsay Gordon competed in five consecutive Great Western Steeplechases, his first on 20 May 1862, run at Sandford that year; he was placed third on Vanguard while the race was won by Robert Learmonth on Soutar Johnnie and Will Trainor second on Charltons.
The following year, on 14 May 1863, the race was run over a new course at Coleraine, covering the same distance and similar terrain but with only 23 substantial post-and-rail jumps. Gordon was unplaced on the favourite Modesty, having won the Border Steeplechase the previous week, but the mare baulked at the fourth-last jump of nearly 5 ft; it was her firstr run in the Great Western, after which Lindsay Gordon bought her.
Adam Lindsay Gordon’s namesake (no immediate relative), rising star jumps jockey Will Gordon, will ride the 7yo gelding Police Camp (GB) on Sunday 15 August 2021; the horse that Will rode to victory earlier this year at the Casterton Two Rivers Steeplechase on 16 May. Police Camp (by Lawman out of Fine Threads), from the United Kingdom, is trained by Warrnambool-based Simon Ryan.
Will Gordon will also ride the 6yo Brett Scott-trained NZ gelding Not Usual Dream in the Race 1 Maiden Hurdle; the 6yo Brett-Scott-trained NZ gelding Zedstar in Race 2 Maiden Hurdle; Patrick F Ryan Jnr-trained 7yo gelding Periscope (NZ) in Race 5, 0-58 Highweight Hcp; George Osborne-trained 5yo mare Ocean Dew (NZ) in Race 7, 0-58 Highweight Hcp; and the Charles-Cassar-trained 6yo gelding Helvetian (NZ) in Race 8, 0-58 Highweight Hcp.