Gallery of Champions

Adam Lindsay Gordon inducted into Australian Jumping Racing Association’s Gallery of Champions

Australia's national poet Adam Lindsay Gordon was last night inducted into the Australian Jumping Racing Association's Gallery of Champions at a gala dinner in Melbourne attended by more than 300 people from the racing fraternity.

Adam Lindsay Gordon Commemorative Committee Inc. members John W Adams and Allan Childs accepted a medallion from the chairman of the Australian Racing Museum and Hall of Fame, Bob Charley. Mr Childs said the formal recognition follows almost two decades of campaigning. 

“There have been that many petitions and letters going back and forth, and we thank the racing fraternity for giving Adam Lindsay Gordon the recognition he deserves,” he said. “He was a famous horseman as well as a famous poet, and we want to ensure that he is never forgotten, so it’s an honour to bring this boy back to the world, and it’s also a great honour for the people of Australia.” 

From late 1853, Adam Lindsay Gordon worked with the South Australian Mounted Police before the lure of horsebreaking and jumps racing proved too powerful. He developed a loyal following riding on early country tracks at locations in South Australia and Victoria. 

“He had many wins and suffered many falls which resulted in broken bones and head injuries. People came from near and far to see this young bloke who just didn’t seem to care – he was fearless, and a real hero,” said Mr Childs. “He always had poor eyesight and could not see past his horses’ ears, but that didn’t stop him from becoming Australia’s champion amateur steeplechase jockey.” 

In July 1864, Gordon made his famous leap over a post and rail fence surrounding Mount Gambier’s Blue Lake, landing on a ledge below – one slip, and Gordon and his horse would have plunged more than 200 feet to certain death. 

“And whatever you do, don’t change your mind When once you have picked your panel.” ‘Fytte IV: In Utrumque Paratus’ – poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon 

The following year, in September, Gordon won the South Australian Jockey Club’s Grand Annual Steeplechase on ‘Cadger’ and in December he won the Ballarat Steeple on ‘Ballarat’. Success followed him to Melbourne, where, on the 10th of October 1868, he become the nation’s racing hero at Flemington Racecourse after riding three winners in a day. 

“He won the Melbourne Hunt Club Cup on Major Baker’s horse ‘Babbler’, he won the Metropolitan Steeplechase on his own horse ‘Viking’, and he won the Selling Steeplechase on his horse ‘Cadger’ and sold the horse immediately afterwards at auction for 40 pounds,” Mr Childs said, adding that a plaque recognising the feat can be found under the Member’s Stand: 

“ADAM LINDSAY GORDON POET RODE THREE STEEPLECHASE WINNERS ON THIS COURSE 10th OCTOBER 1868.” 

The medallion from the Australian Jumping Racing Association is attached. 

For further information, please contact Allan Childs on 0408 382 222 or John W Adams on 0421 043 272. 

‘Yet if man, of all the Creator plann’d, His noblest work is reckoned, Of the works of His hand, by sea or by land, The horse may at least rank second.’ ‘Part I: Visions in the Smoke’ – poem by Adam Lindsay Gordon

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