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Image courtesy KI Racing Club, image improved by Peter Bassett

Race Meetings on Kangaroo Island of nearly Fifty years Ago.

We have to thank Mrs T. Margrie and Mr C. A. Margrie, for the privilege of publishing the report of the first and second race meetings held at Cygnet River. The reports are taken from a scrap book compiled by the late Mr John Wickham Daw. They will no doubt be of interest to our readers generally, and more particularly those old veterans who reside here, and those who were present at the race meetings. There is no date of the year on the reports, but Mr A. Snelling informed us that the first meeting took place either in 1883 or 1884. [sic ... actually 1878]

Race Meetings on Kangaroo Island of nearly Fifty years Ago. (1930, January 25). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 2.


The inhabitants of Kingscote and Cygnet River held their first race meeting on the 27th and 28th of March [1878] on a level piece of country close to Mr. Calnan's farm. The weather was delightful, and there was a good number of spectators present, including many of the fair sex of the island. The first day's sport consisted of three races, and, considering the short time some of the horses have been in training, most of the events were done in good time. Mr. John Wickham Daw acted as Judge, and Mr. H. O. Thompson as Starter. The Stewards were Messrs. Bruce, Calnan, Boxer, and Reeves. The following are the details :—

FIRST DAY. FIRST RACE. One mile and a half. For £5 5s. Mr. Boxer's Hughey ... 1. Mr. Snelling's Rocket ... 2. Five horses started for this race. The lot were got away well together, Mr. Snelling's Rocket taking the lead, but was soon overhauled by Boxer's Hughey, who maintained his position to the finish, Rocket second, the rest nowhere.

SECOND RACE. For £4. One mile. Catch weights. Mr. Snelling's Rocket ... 1. Four horses went to the post for this race, but this time Mr. Snelling's Rocket cut out the running and won easily, hard held.

THIRD RACE. For £2 10s. Three-quarters of a mile. Mr. Reeve's Teaser ... 1.

SECOND DAY. FIRST RACE—LADIES' PURSE. Mr. Calnan's Bruce ... 1. Mr. Calnan's Lucifer ... 2. This was a very exciting race. Several horses faced the Starter, but Mr. Calnan's horses Bruce and Lucifer went away first and second, the result being a splendid race between the stable companions. Bruce managed to secure first place, owing to the excellent manner in which he was ridden. A hurryskurry was won easily by Mr. Calnan's Jackey.

TROTTING MATCH. Mr. G. Snelling's Polly ... 1 Mr. Thompson's Maduro ... 2. A match between Teaser and Rocket, which followed, was a very close contest, the pair racing neck and neck for more than half the distance, when Mr. Reeves's Teaser went to the front and won by half a length. Cheers were given for the Judge, Starter, and Committee, and a very pleasant holiday was thus brought to a close—one that will be long remembered on Kangaroo Island.

1878 'SPORTING.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900),


The inhabitants of the Kingscote district of Kangaroo Island held their second annual race meeting on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th of April [1879]. The spot selected—on the banks of the Cygnet River—is a very pretty and suitable one. There was a large gathering for the island, especially of the fair set, greatly adding to the interest of the scene. The different events were keenly contested, creating much interest and excitement, some of the finishes being very close— one in particular, a private match for a small sum, between Hughey (ridden by Mr. Boxer) and Rocket (ridden by Mr. F. Thomson), which resulted in two dead heats and the defeat of the hitherto invincible Hughey, who, however, had considerably the worst of the weights, after some most determined riding. The meeting, which extended to three days, passed off very pleasurably, all seeming to enjoy themselves, the interest never flagging to the last. The events were as follows:—

FIRST DAY. KANGAROO ISLAND CUP.—Mile and a half; heats. Mr. Boxer's Hughey ... ... 1 1 Mr. Snelling's Rocket ... ... 2 2 Mr. Chapman's Blossom 3 Mr. Calnan's Bruce. Mr. Calnan's Lucifer. Mr. Reeves's Teazer.

PRIVATE MATCH. Mr. A. Daw's Dandy... ... . 1 Mr. T. Northcote's Colly ... ... 2

SQUATTERS' PURSE.—One and a quarter miles, heats. Mr. Snelling's Bocket 2 1 1 Mr. Chapman's Blossom ... 1 3 2 Mr. Calnan's Jackey. Mr. Reeves's Teaser.

LADIES' PURSE.—One mile; heats. Mr. Chapman's Blossom ... 1 2 1 Mr. Calnan's Lucifer ... 4 1 2 Mr. Daw's Dandy ... 2 4 3 Mr. Reeves's Teazer ... ... 3 3

SECOND DAY . HURDLE RACE.—Two miles ; heats. Mr. Snelling's Rocket ... 1 1 Mr. Calnan's Lucifer ... 2 5 Mr. Reeve's Teaser ... 5 2 Mr. Calnan's Bruce. Mr. Chapman's Blossom.

TROTTING RACE.—Heats. Mr. Thomson's Countess ... 2 2 1 Mr. George Snelling's Colly 1 2 2 Mr. Northcote's Kitty ... 3

CHAMPION RACE.—Two miles ; heats. Mr. Boxer's Hughey . ... 1 1 Mr. Bahe's Daisy... ... ... 2 2 Mr. Calnan's Lucifer. Mr. Reeves's Brewer.

THIRD DAY. HURRYSKURRY. Mr. Calnan's Bruce ... 1 Mr. Daw's Dandy ... 2

FLYING STAKES.—Three-quarters of a mile. Mr. Calnan's Lucifer, ... ... 1 Mr. Calnan's Bruce ... 2 Some others ran.

PRIVATE Match.—One mile. Mr. Snelling's Rocket ... ... 1 Mr. Boxer's Hughey ... 2

The sports were wound up with several foot-races.

KANGAROO ISLAND RACES. (1879, April 19). Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904), p. 7.


The annual races were held on the old course on March 28 [1890], a large concourse of settlers from all parts of the island being present. The races were first class, and the prizes were good. The results were as follows:—

MAIDENS.—Three-quarters of a mile, Mr. Whitaker's Fly by Night, 1; Mr. F. Thomson's Brigand, 2. MENZIES CUP.—One and a half miles. Mr. R. Chapman's Low Low, 1; Mr. W. Batta's Pearl, 2. Time, 3 min. HACKS.—One mile. Mr. M. Calnan's Mermaid, 1; Mr. Chapman's Zellar. 2. HURDLES.—One and a half miles. Mr. M. Calnan's Why Not, 1; Mr. Whitaker'a Fly-by-Night, 2. HURRY SCURRY.— Three-quarters of a mile. Mr. F. Thomson's Brigand, 1; Mr. W. Batta's Pearl, 2. TROTTING MATCH. —Two miles. Mr. C. Thomson's Darkie, 1, Mr. M. Whittaker's Jess, 2. Time, 7 min. Darkie trotted splendidly from start to finish without a break.

SPORTING. (1890, April 2). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), p. 6.


The Kangaroo Island Racing Club held their annual meeting on Friday, March 2 [1900]. The attendance was good. The officials were:— Committee, Messrs. J. H. Carter (Chairman), R. Chapman, E. Bates, M. Chirgwin, S. Florance, T. Margrie, G. Gobell, and C. Anderson (Secretary); Judges, Messrs R. Chapman and Mr. T. Margrie; Referee, Mr. Chirgwin; Starter, Mr. G. Gobell: Clerk of the Course, Mr. E. Bates. The following are the results: — Maidens, three-quarters of a mile. — Mr. W. Toseland's Domino, 1; Mr. C. Thompson's Miss, 2; Mr. G. Gasmier's Spendthrift, 3. Pony Race, half a mile.— Mr. C. Calnan's Trilby, 1; Mr. G. Gobell's Dolly, 2; Mr. M. Chapman's Songster, 3. Cup, one and a half miles.— Mr. W. Chapman's Vesper, 1; Mr. J. Bates's Patsy, 2; Mr. G. Gasmier's Spendthrift, 3. Hacks, one mile.— Mr. J. Florence's Bluff, 1; Mr. M. Chirgwin's Don, 2; Mr. G. Gasmier's Spendthrift, 3. Cygnet Purse, one and a quarter miles. — Mr. M. Chapman's Kathleen, 1; Mr. M. Chirgwiu's Don, 2: Mr. C. Calnan's Mermaid, 3. Hurryskurry.— Mr. J. Bates's Patsy, 1; Mr. C. Thompson's Miss, 2; Mr. J. Florences's Ronald, 3.

QUEENSCLIFFE RACES. (1900, March 7). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 10.


Kingscote, April 23, 1905

The annual meeting of the Kingscote Racing Club was held on the Cygnet River Racecourse on April 15. There was a fair attendance of visitors. Details: — Maiden Plate.— Mr. F. McCourt's Little Jack, 1 Mr. G. G. Ayliffe's Rebel, 2; Mr. Jas. Old's Floss, 3. Kingscote Cup.— Mr. W. Chapman's Vesper. 1; Mr. F. McCourt's Little Jack, 2; Mr. B. Airy's Merry Maid. 8. Cygnet River Purse. — Mr. J. Bates' Patsey, 1; Mr. W. Chirgwin's Bravo, 2; Mr. McCourt's Little Jack. 3. Hurdle Race.— Mr. W. Chapman's Vesper, 1; Mr. J. Bates' Patsey, 2; Mr. J. Old's Floss, 3. Hack Race.— Mr. C. Melling's Union, 1; Mr. G Barnes' Domino, .2; Mr. M. Chirgwin's Bravo, 3. Hurry Skurry.— Mr. G. Barnes' Domino. 1; Mr. M. Chirgwin's Bravo, 2.

KINGSCOTE JOCKEY CLUB MEETING (1905, April 29). Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), p. 19. Retrieved August 4, 2019, from

The Kingscote Racing Club has been placed on the register of clubs by the S.A.J.C. committee, and Monday, April 2, 1906, allotted thereto as a racing fixture.

1906 'TURF GOSSIP.', Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), 17 March, p. 19. , viewed 04 Aug 2019,


Monday last was a big day for Kingscote and Kangaroo Island generally for it was then that the Kingscote Racing Club held its annual meeting for 1908. The steamer Karatta arriving on Saturday evening carried on board between 200 and 300 people, and these helped materially to swell the number of pleasure - seekers who assembled on the Racecourse. Unfortunately "the fates were not propitious" so far as the weather was concerned, as the day was an exceptionally hot one for Kangaroo Island. Despite this fact, however, from early morning until after the lunch hour, vehicles and horsemen were continually streaming out along the road which lead to the scene of the day's sport. Those who had never seen the Racecourse before were agreeably surprised when, after a drive of some four or five miles along a hot, dusty road, a pretty winding stream with trees growing along its banks was reached. This, visitors were informed, was the Cygnet River. Drawing near to the bridge, the Racecourse, distinguished by a number of marquees, vehicles drawn up under trees and numbers of people already moving about, was noted and approved of, and presently visitors had an opportunity of making a closer acquaintance with it. The situation is delightful, especially when the weather is hot, for the agreeable shade of the many trees counteract the influence of Old Sol's ill - humour. The course, moreover, is an excellent one. Along the banks of the stream were to be seen little picnic parties who reclined lazily in the shade and watched the waters moving by, thus filling in the time pleasantly before the starting of the first race.

THE ATTENDANCE. About 600 people assembled during the day, and the number would have been greatly augmented had it not been for the hot weather. Included amongst those present could be noticed a number of well-known Adelaide sporting men.

THE BOOTHS ETC. The Publican's Booth was under the able supervision of Mr F. H. Winch, who did all that was possible to provide for the wants of patrons. Owing to the heat there was a much greater demand for liquids than solids and at times the thirsty souls round the counter were about three deep. Messrs Hemer Bros. with their Refreshment Stall and Mr C. Western (Fruit and Cool Drinks Stall afforded every satisfaction to patrons.

THE TOTE. The above was well patronised and showed a vastly improved increase on previous meetings, £312 15/ being invested for the day. The tote was conducted under the able supervision of Mr F. White.

POLICE SUPERVISION. M.C.'s Thorpe and McArthur were present on the ground but they experienced little difficulty in maintaining order as the crowd was an orderly and good - tempered one, and the casual drunk was conspicuous by his absence. Detectives Mitchell and O'Sullivan were present to watch proceedings on behalf of the Club.

A FEW SUGGESTIONS. Of course a racing club cannot effect all sorts of improvements and alterations without a good surplus in the way of cash, but there are a few additions and alterations that we would like to see carried into effect before the year 1908 has vanished into the past. We trust we are not premature in suggesting a grandstand, but that is certainly what we would like to see erected in the near future : in fact the rapidly growing importance of the Club demands it. A perhaps more immediate and certainly less expensive item is the construction of a stewards' stand, for the accommodation of stewards and representatives of the press. Then again there is the totalizator office. If that were placed half in and half out of the enclosure the receipts would be greater as numbers of people outside would patronise the tote, whereas, at present, they are precluded from doing so. Then there are a number of minor alterations and improvements required the adoption of which would greatly conduce to the comfort of patrons.

SUCCESS OF THE MEETING. The meeting throughout on Monday was a great success, not a hitch or a protest occurring during the day. There is no doubt whatever in the mind of the writer that the annual meeting of the Kingscote Racing Club has every promise of developing into one of the biggest country events in South Australia.

THE OFFICERS Worked well together during the day, and are to be complimented on the manner in which they backed up their secretary. Mr E. F. Lockyer only took up the reins of office as secretary a few weeks ago and naturally, he was handicapped in many ways, finding that the said office on Race day was no sinecure. He has in him, however, the makings of a capital secretary, and when he has an opportunity of getting thoroughly into "the swing of things" he will find the work not half so difficult and everything going like clockwork. He is, with the officers who backed him up, to be congratulated on the success of Monday's meeting. Mr A. Daw, owing to a severe indisposition, had to retire from his position as judge, the vacant place being worthily filled by the veteran Mr T. Reed, who has had consider-able experience in such matters, and whose work on Monday gave every satisfaction. Mr H. G. Taylor, who had just recovered from a short severe illness, was hardly in his usual form, yet made a capital starter, and is to be congratulated thereon. In the Cygnet Purse he had considerable difficulty in getting the field away, but ultimately did so to a good start. Following is the official list :— Stewards : Messrs C. H. Humphris, F. C. Addison, W. J. Campbell, F. H. Ayliffe, G. G. Ayliffe, Robt. Clarke, J. Trethewey. Committee : Messrs G. G. Ayliffe (chairman), A. Daw (treasurer), R. Chapman, A. H. Daw, F. H. Winch, J. Dewar, H. G. Taylor, A. R. Campbell, and E. F. Lockyer (hon. sec). Judge, Mr A. Daw (relieved by Mr T. Reed). Starter, Mr H. G. Taylor. Handicapper, Mr H. Hughes. Timekeeper, Mr A. R. Campbell. Measurer for Pony Race, Mr A. H. Daw. Totalizator Steward, Mr G. G. Ayliffe. Clerk of Course, Mr G. J. Reed. Clerk of Scales, Mr J. N. Davis.

THE RACING Was interesting, some good finishes being fought out. Following is a list of results of the various events :— MAIDEN PLATE. (7 furlongs.) Mr H. Mattiske's br. h. Focus, Snapshot —Ceres, aged, 8st. 11lb. (Campbell) 1 Mr W. Maggs' b.g. Loristos, Kallistos— Madame Melba, 5 yrs, 8st. 11lb (Day) 2 Mr R. B. Chapman's br. h. Chesil, Cheselton—Miria, 4yrs, 9st. (Rosenthal) ... ... ... ... 3 Other starters—Warrigal (F. Calnan), Brave Girl (Watson), Koranda (Reid). At the start Focus got well away followed by Loristos with the rest of the field well bunched. Focus lead to the third turn, closely followed by Loristos, who passed him there. Chesil caught them and the three ran to the top of the straight together when Loristos, still leading by a head from Focus, got away from Chesil. Coming home Focus passed Loristos and won fairly easy. Time, 1m. 35s. Amount in totalizator, £29 15/. Dividend for 5/ tickets, £2 13/6.

HANDICAP HURDLES. (About two miles.) Mr C. Johnson's b.g. Millstream, Sorel —Rose de Florance, aged. 10st. 2lb. (C. Johnson) ... ... ... 1 Mr J. G. Bates' b. or br.g. Jack Swivel-ler, Dick Swiveller—A King of the North mare, aged, 10st. 1lb. (Parki-son) ... ... ... ... 2 Mr J. L. Barnes' g.m. Greygown, Gold-and-Black—Dam unknown, 5yrs. 9st. 12lb. (Barnes) ... ... 3 Other starters--Bushman (O'Reilly) Clipper (H. Douglas). A good start, with Clipper and Bushman first over, Clipper jumping well. At the second hurdle Bushman ran off but returned and went over it. During this incident Millstream had gained the lead, with Greygown second, and Clipper lying third. At the third jump Bush-man stopped. In the second round Millstream was still leading with Greygown second and Jack Swiveller third. At the last jump Jack Swiveller was coming up but Millstream led out and won in a canter followed by Swiveller with Greygown third. Time 4m. 17s. Invested £49 15/. Dividend, 9/ for 5/.

TOWN PLATE. One Mile. Mr C. Western's b g Geniality, General Sarsfield — Bonita, aged, 9st. 3lb. (Calnan) ... ... ... 1 Messrs Campbell & Ayliffe's br g Souris, Young Smuggler—Mousie, 5 years, 8st. 11lb., (Liddle) ... ... 2 Mr W. Aldridge's b g The Author, Bobbie Burns — Mystery, aged, 8st 12lb. (Campbell) ... ... ... 3 Geniality and Souris got away at the start, but The Author was left. As they passed the judge's stand a cry arose "No start, come back," and the riders pulled up and rode back to the starting post, where they made a fresh start, although the first one was genuine enough. This time Geniality was leading on the inside, closely followed by Souris. The same order prevailed until the third turn when Souris passed his competitor. Just before entering the straight Geniality drew level with Souris, and the big horse and the little one were racing neck and neck, when, drawing near the winning post, Geniality drew ahead and gained the judge's verdict by a head. Time, 1 min. 56 sec. Invested, £26. Dividend, 10/6 for 5/.

KANGAROO ISLAND CUP. One mile and a quarter. Mr G. Bennet's br g Homer, King of Trumps—Narlene, aged, 8st. 10lb. (Reid) ... ... ... ... 1 Mr T. McGahan's b g DanNy Mann, Atlas —Mavoureen, aged, 8st. 7lb. (Camp-bell) ... ... ... ... 2 Mr R. W. Chapman's br m Lady Marsden, Light Artillery—Vesper, 5 years, 8st. 8lb. (C. Calnan) ... ... ... 3 Other starters—Patsey (W. Rosen-thal), Weei (F. Calnan), Robin Hood (A. Muirhead). A good start, with Homer well away in the lead, fol-lowed by Danny Mann a length away, and Lady Marsden third. At the third turn Homer was still leading with Danny Mann in close attendance on his quarter. The two entered the straight together, but Homer drew away and gained the verdict, with Lady Marsden third. Time, 2min. 14½sec. Invested, £70 15/. Divi-dend, 13/6 for 5/.

PONY RACE. Of five furlongs. Karatta (Rosenthal) 9st. 7lb. ... 1 Mousie (Liddle) 7st. 7lb. ... ... 2 Kelpie (Calnan) 7st. ... ... ... 3 Kelpie was left at the post. Karatta shot ahead from the start, and lead home by lengths all the way. Kelpie caught Mousie at the turn but on reaching the straight the latter drew right away and came in an easy second. Time 1m. 12s. Invested £19 5/. Dividend, 5/6 for 5/.

CYGNET PURSE. (Of 6 furlongs.) Mr T. McGahan's b.g. Danny Mann, Atlas—Mavourneen, aged, 8st. 9lb. (Rosenthal) ... ... ... 1 Mr G. Bennet's br.g. Homer, King of Trumps—Narlene, aged, 8st. 12lb. (Reid) ... ... ... ... 2 Mr A. Nicholson's br.m. Ruby, Light Artillery—Thorinda, 5 yrs, 8st, 2lb. (Campbell) ... ... ... 3 Other starters—Lady Marsden (C. Calnan), Souris (A. Liddle), Chesil (Muirhead). The starter experienced some difficulty in getting the field away, but eventually he got them off to a good start, with Ruby in the lead followed by Danny Mann. The race was a good one the field being well bunched throughout, the final results being as above stated. Time, 1m. 19½s. Invested, £69. Dividend, £1 11/ for 5/.

CORINTHIAN HANDICAP. (One Mile.) Mr W. Maggs' b.g. Loristos, Kallistos— Madame Melba, 5yrs, 11st. (Neil Campbell) ... ... ... 1 Mr H. Mattiske's br.h. Focus, Snapshot —Ceres, aged, 10st. 10lb. (E. H. O'Reilly) ... ... ... 2 Mr T. D. McGahan's b.g. Bushman, a Trenton colt—Unknown dam, aged, 11st, 2lb. (S. T. O'Reilly). ... 3 Other starters—Patsey (P. Reed), Geniality (C. Western), The Author (H. Reed), Souris (L. W. Ayliffe), Robin Hood ( G. W. Ayliffe), Brave Girl (Clendinan), Weei (J. B. Ayliffe). The field of ten, looking picturesque with its vivid contrast of color and prancing horses, got away to a good start, Focus and Patsey being first to break away from the line. Turning out of the straight Bushman and Focus were a clean two lengths in front of the rest of the field, which was well bunched. At the 5-furlong post Bushman and Focus were still leading and Loristos had made a forward move. Three furlongs from home Loristos was with the leaders and from thence onward he had an easy task, winning by several lengths from Focus. Time 1min. 53 sec. Invested, £48 5/. Dividend, 16/ for 5/.

Kingscote Racing Club. (1908, January 11). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 6. Retrieved August 4, 2019, from

At a committee meeting of the Kingscote Racing Club held on Saturday, 12th inst., the resignation of Mr A. R. Campbell as Honorary Secretary of the Club was regretfully accepted. Mr Campbell has held office for over two years during which time great improvements at the course and in the class of horses competing have taken place, and the Chairman, in a valedictory speech, tendered Mr Campbell the best thanks of the Club for his great effort to make the King of Sports more popular on K.I. The late secretary, whom business arrangements call away from the Island during the next 6 or 9 months, will be succeeded by Mr Geo. W. Ayliffe, whose appointment should prove a popular one.

THE KINGSCOTE RACING CLUB. (1910, March 19). The Kangaroo Island Courier (Kingscote, SA : 1907 - 1951), p. 4. Retrieved May 9, 2019, from

Image courtesy Dean Wiles, Hope Cottage Museum

I have an old map of KI which has Daw residence at Cygnet River - my G Grandfather organised the first KI horse race on Daw's property.

For 1 shilling included all entrance fees for people and horses plus all the beer you could drink.

Must have been quite a show because Mrs Daw objected to the "shanickings" put a stop to it. [ Oh just a chapman thing!]

From my Grandfather's stories- quite a few men fell in the river & plus a couple of "laaadies"------and so then he had to set up the following races on the eastern side of the KI to American River Road, [where is still located].

My G Grandfather won the new few years major race cups with horse straight out of the buggy- just put young Marsden [ Tot Chapman] on the horse as a jockey!

- Geoffrey Chapman