The Apsley Racing Club, in conjunction with the Mullagh Wills Foundation, West Wimmera Shire and the local Apsley community will once again host the Jimmy Tarpot Cup in 2018.
The Jimmy Tarpot Cup, named in honour of Jimmy Tarpot, a member of the famous 1866 Aboriginal cricket team, is a 100 yards backwards race which will be run down the main straight of the Edenhope race track prior to the running of the 2018 DiGiorgio Family Wines Apsley Cup on Sunday June 10.
The race was introduced in 2016 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Aboriginal Cricket team’s match against the Melbourne Cricket Club on the MCG on Boxing Day in 1866. In 2016 the Apsley Racing Club and West Wimmera Shire hosted the “Journey to the MCG” Message Book as part of the race day activities to help celebrate the famous journey the team took from Edenhope to Melbourne in December 1866.
“We are delighted the Apsley Racing Club has continued to celebrate the achievements of local Jimmy Tarpot and indeed the Aboriginal Cricket Team, who 150 years ago became Australia’s first sporting team to play overseas. We thank the Club and the West Wimmera Shire for working with the community to ensure these achievements continue to be commemorated,” said Mullagh Wills Chair, Jane Nathan.
Local footballer Dale Smith won the inaugural Jimmy Tarpot Cup in a time of 15:01 seconds, 1:01 seconds outside the time set by Jimmy Tarpot on the MCG 150 years earlier.
This year two Bendigo Gift winners and a dual Stawell Gift finalist will be facing backwards on the starting line for the Jimmy Tarpot Cup. Melbourne based group of runners, Robbie Spencer, Tim Mason, Kevin Brittain, Tom Griffin and David Griffin will be competing against former local and now Adelaide based Chris Munn in the race to be crowned Jimmy Tarpot 100 yards Australian Backwards Champion. All six runners are looking forward to the day and appreciate the significance of the event.
“I think it is fantastic the Apsley Race Club is hosting this event in honour of Jimmy Tarpot, a local Aboriginal cricketer who ran the 100 yards backwards at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 14 seconds in 1866. That he became a highly respected wool classer in the district over 150 years ago adds to his story and I certainly appreciate why the Race Club is keen to honour him in such a respectful manner,” said Tim Mason, who was runner-up to Dean Capobianco in the 1990 Stawell Gift.
While Jimmy did not make the famed tour of England in 1868 with his fellow teammates, he did return to Apsley and became a renowned wool classer.
‘The Club wanted to do something to promote the anniversary of the Aboriginal Cricket Team’s tour to England and knowing the history of Jimmy Tarpot it couldn’t be anything but a backwards race so we are pleased to continue this event in 2018,” said Apsley Racing Club President, Roger Pfitzner.
The Apsley Racing Club is Victoria’s oldest country racing club, and the Sunday race meeting is part of a big weekend in the region.
The event is named in honour of Jimmy Tarpot, who worked on Bringalbert Station outside of Apsley and was a member of the Aboriginal Cricket Team that was invited to play the Melbourne Cricket Club on the MCG on Boxing Day in 1866. On December 28, 1866 the Aboriginal Cricket team conducted a sports day at the MCG and Jimmy Tarpot thrilled the thousands of people in attendance with the unusual feat of running 100 yards backwards in 14 seconds.
Jimmy (born Murrumgunerrimin) missed the Aboriginal Cricket Team’s famous tour of England in 1868 due to illness. He and his wife Jenny returned to Apsley and he became a highly respected wool classer in the district. Jimmy Tarpot is buried at the Apsley cemetery.