Poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon’s Racing Colours

Blue Lake, Mount Gambier (Photo credit, David Blackmore)

In July 1864, the poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon performed the daring riding feat known as Gordon’s Leap on the edge of the Blue Lake. A commemorative obelisk erected there has an inscription which reads:

“This obelisk was erected as a memorial to the famous Australian poet. From near this spot in July, 1864, Gordon made his famed leap on horseback over an old post and rail guard fence onto a narrow ledge overlooking the Blue Lake and jumped back again onto the roadway. The foundation stone of the Gordon Memorial Obelisk was laid on 8th July 1887.”

Adam Lindsay Gordon Obelisk at the Blue Lake, Mount Gambier
Adam Lindsay Gordon (b1833 – d1870)
Blue Lake, Mount Gambier (Photo credit David Blackmore)

Adam Lindsay Gordon used to ride race horses for Edwin Gordon Blackmore. Edwin’s son, Jack and Edith Blackmore had two sets of Gordon’s Racing Colours for many years. In 1969, a jacket and cap, in a Gordon Tartan, that was worn in Melbourne races, was donated to the Mudgee Museum and in 1972 his red and black checked (Rob Roy MacGregor Tartan) colours were donated to the South Australian Jockey Club at Morphettville.

In 2005, Lesley Pennell (nee Reddish, who’s father Carl worked for Blackmores at “Mt View”, Clandulla for 25 years) advised that, noted in the Mudgee Museum display, was that those racing colours, in Gordon Tartan, were those that Adam Lindsay Gordon had worn on the day he had three wins in Melbourne races on a horse possibly owned by Edwin Blackmore.

Could this have been, however, the three wins in one day at the Melbourne Hunt Club Steeplechase at Flemington on the 10th October 1868 “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,”

The red and black colours may have been Blackmore’s colours as the jacket worn by Gordon when he won the VRC Spring Steeplechase at Flemington, on ‘Viking’, on 10 October 1868 was red and black. Gordon could have chosen to ride in the Blackmore colours, or in his own, regardless of horse ownership, as the rules about racing colours were not so stringent in those days

Jacket and Cap in a Gordon Tartan, described as Old Ancient, at the Mudgee Museum. It is believed that Adam Lindsay Gordon rode in these when he won three races in a day at a Melbourne Steeplechase.

The second set of, red and black, Racing Colours were carried south via a Pony Club relay to raise money for the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Letter from South Australian Jockey Club and photo of Mrs Edith Blackmore handing over the red and black checked (Rob Roy Tartan) Racing Colours of Adam Lindsay Gordon with NSW MInister for Justice, John Maddison (left) and Australian Equestrian Gold Medal Winner, Laurie Morgan (right)
1972 Charity Ride for Munich Olympics (Note:- Edwin Blackmore was not knighted but received a CMG)
1972 Charity Ride for Munich Olympics

In 1984 the Colours were loaned by the SA Jockey Club to the National Parks and Wildlife Service for the re-opening of the poet’s former cottage, “Dingley Dell”, at Port MacDonnell, near Mount Gambier, after an extensive refurbishment.

“Dingley Dell” Cottage at Port MacDonnell

Since then the Colours had been kept in the SAJC boardroom at Morphettville, near Glenelg. In 2002, the Morphettville Grandstand was re-developed and the Morphettville track also underwent complete re-development. At this time the Colours were placed into storage and haven’t yet been returned to display.

In Adelaide, Edwin Gordon Blackmore (1837-1909) had been active in the founding and the development of the Adelaide Hunt Club, established in 1869. He was looked on as the father of the club and was its master in 1870 and 1885, and secretary in 1870, 1879-82 and 1884-85. He bought 2¾ acres for the club at New Thebarton for kennels and stables, designed the buildings and supervised their erection.

Adelaide Hunt Club

He was represented in the first Hunt Club Steeplechase by a relative, Adam Lindsay Gordon, the poet, who came from Victoria to ride Mr Blackmore’s horse “Lancelot”.

Oct 2 1869 Fourth on Blackmore’s “Lancelot” Adelaide Hunt Club Steeple

Oct 9 1869 “Lancelot” Fourth in Adelaide Hunt Club Steeple.

It is thought that Blackmore’s common ancestor with Adam Lindsay Gordon was a John Gordon who died before 1360! (More than 13 generations back). His line appears to have come from Thomas Gordon of Ruthven, known as Tam.

Blackmore won several steeplechases himself and amongst his horses best remembered are Landsdowne, Bluefire, Colefire, Shiloh, Fitzjames, Whitefoot and Charlcombe.

Edwin Gordon Blackmore was Parliamentary Librarian when Adam Lindsay Gordon was in the South Australian Legislative Assembly in 1865-66, and the two became firm friends. Gordon trained Blackmore’s horse Lancelot while in Adelaide, and Blackmore also rode with Gordon on the hunting field. In 1869, Gordon travelled by sea from Melbourne to Adelaide and rode Lancelot in the first Adelaide Hunt Club Steeple on 2 October, but did not win a place. Blackmore returned Gordon’s visit, and watched him rider Major Thomas Baker’s horse Prince Rupert in the VRC Steeplechase at Flemington on 12 March 1870, in which Gordon was thrown at the second fence. In spite of the seriousness of the fall, Gordon jumped to his feet, remounted, recovered the lost ground, and led again until Prince Rupert fell at the third fence. This time Gordon was thrown badly. Blackmore came to his help and took him home to Brighton; this was the fall he never fully recovered from.

Adelaide Hunt Club

In 1934, Edwin’s granddaughter, 22 year old, Eleanora Mary “Nell” Sharp (daughter of Jane Blackmore) attended the unveiling of the bust of Adam Lindsay Gordon in “Poets Corner” at Westminster Abbey by the Duke of York.

Bust of Adam Lindsay Gordon in “Poets Corner” at Westminster Abbey.

For more on Gordon’s life see Link below to The Adam Lindsay Gordon Commemorative Committee:-

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