A field of 10 horses jumped at the starting line for the 1909 Grand Annual Steeplechase.
Just three of them, led by David Kelly's Mossbank, greeted the judge at the winning post after surviving just over nine hellish minutes of driving rain and dangerously slippery conditions. The ornate silver cup presented after the win against all odds, is now the centrepiece of an exhibition of memorabilia marking 150 years of Grand Annual history.
On show in the Woodford Lounge at the Warrnambool Racecourse during this week's three-day May Racing Carnival, the display presents a snapshot of the annual through the decades.
Curated by racing club historian and committee member Mark McNamara, it also includes an array of historic photos, race books and cards, trophies and the silks, riding boots and whip used by prolific Kevin Lafferty rider, J N (John) Williams.
Mr Williams rode in 19 Grand Annuals during his 27-year career, winning on Solight in 1957 but also notching up an impressive four seconds and four thirds in the iconic race. He had the distinction of winning all the carnival's feature races. Mr McNamara said items were drawn from the club's archives, his own personal collection and from public donations.
"We have some wonderful pieces of memorabilia that have been donated, some as recently as the last six months," he said.
The Mossbank trophy was donated in 1988 by Max Kelly in memory of his ancestor, winning owner David Kelly. The 1909 Grand Annual, along with 1934 edition, are infamously known as the annuals in which the entire field suffered an incident; some fell, others baulked and ran off.
Remarkably after a fall at the second last fence, Mossbank rallied to take the win by five lengths from Romana after his jockey, Jimmy Irving, was helped back into the saddle by the starter John Twomey.
Mr McNamara said the club was very conscious of its rich history, one it's keen to preserve and promote. With assistance from racing and history buff Terry McSweeney, he has been cataloguing its extensive store of historical material ahead of proper preservation and future display which may include digitisation of key elements.
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