Chequered history of the Lismore Cup

Although the Lismore Cup was run for the first time in 1908, the race didn't appear again until 1920.

It survived during the Great Depression but vanished again in 1937 until the end of the Second World War, returning to the local racing calendar in 1946.

The first Cup carried prize money of 20 sovereigns, a valuable trophy for the winner (Truthful) and five sovereigns for the second placegetter.

The race meeting was organised by the Lismore Jockey Club.

The Lismore Band played and the Northern Rivers pigeon shooting championship finals were held at the course on the day.

Race organisers presented a diamond and ruby gold bangle to the 'lady' who picked the three placegetters in the big race.

The first race was at 2.30pm and the last at 4.50pm.

The Lismore Cup has always been the premier racing event on the Northern Rivers and in the 1960s carried prize money of $2000 - almost enough to buy a house in those days.

There was a spectacular crash only a furlong from the finish in the 1966 Lismore Cup when five of the eight horses fell, leaving jockeys strewn over the track.

Veteran Grafton gelding Orara River had to be destroyed.

The winner of the race, with only three horses finishing, was Whitefoot.

The crowd was estimated at 700, a far cry from the 8000 or more expected this year.

In 1968 the Lismore Turf Club grounds were purchased by the Australian Jockey Club (AJC).

Over the years the race has been won by some great jockeys and horses.

The most famous horse to win the race was Rousillon, which won consecutive Cups in 1971 and 1972.

“He was a champion horse on the country racing circuit,” said Michael Timbrell, secretary-manager of the Lismore Turf Club.

“He had 160 starts and won the Ballina Cup, two Lismore Cups and races in Brisbane and a load of other metropolitan and country meetings.”

The first day of the Lismore spring racing carnival is now called the Rousillon Handicap Race Day in honour of the great gelding.

The equine influenza outbreak forced cancellation of the Lismore Cup in 2007.

This year it's back, bigger and better than ever, with record prize money and a record crowd expected to join in the centenary festivities.

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