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Dunlop wins the Melbourne Cup

In a scrapbook in the Swallow & Ariell archive is a page of reminiscences about the ‘old’ days in Port Melbourne which includes a reference to the Melbourne Cup.

 ‘old residents will remember the (navy) volunteers, led by Captain Swallow. We used to follow them around the streets, the band playing current tunes “Back Harry”. Moore, who died a few years ago aged 105, beat the big drum. The band master was Dick Donovan, who in a subsequent year won the Melbourne Cup with Dunlop.’  Age 9 2 1935

The Melbourne Cup public holiday was officially introduced in 1873. Dunlop won the Cup in 1887.

Melbourne Cup winners - Dunlop is in the top row at the right image: State Library of Victoria
Melbourne Cup winners – Dunlop is in the top row at the right
image: State Library of Victoria

Here is another reference to Donovan:

 ‘Dick Donovan, who won the Melbourne Cup of 1887 with Dunlop, beating Silvermine and Australian Peer, and who cleared £6,000 pounds has gone up a tree, or in other words, filed his shovel in Melbourne. Donovan went broke not over horse racing but the universally destructive land boom, which swallowed up his racecourse winnings to a farthing. It has transpired that Donovan was a liberal hearted fellow over his big win, and parted handsomely to those who had assisted him to take the Melbourne Cup with Dunlop. He gave his jockey £1,500 and his trainer £1,000, which proves that a sporting man is not the least liberal of his kind.’ Barrier Miner Tuesday 4 November 1890

It sounds like there is more of a story to tell about Dick Donovan and his connection to Port if someone is willing to do the research.


  • mike Donovan
    Posted September 6, 2017 10.06 am 0Likes

    Over the years I have collected a fair bit of info on this elusive relative of mine. I cannot establish his exact relationship to me but he is buried in the Donovan family plot in Tasmania with my grandfather etc. Can forward what I know if you want
    Regards Mike Donovan

    • Janet Bolitho
      Posted September 6, 2017 5.30 pm 0Likes

      Hi Mike, Always interested to know more – especially that part of your family history that took place in Port Melbourne.

    • Ruth Matheswon
      Posted January 18, 2020 10.59 pm 0Likes

      Hi Mike,
      Richard Donovan was a great great (unsure how many greats) grandfather of my husband, who is a keen punter and dabbles in horse ownership. I’d be delighted to know more about his life. I’d like to put a bit of a story together as a gift for my husband and would be happy to pass on anything I can find out.
      Best Regards,
      Ruth Mathewson

      • Janet Bolitho
        Posted January 20, 2020 9.31 am 0Likes

        Hello Ruth
        We’d love to know more about your husband’s forebear. Keep us posted on your discoveries.

  • David Ferguson
    Posted March 3, 2020 12.54 pm 0Likes

    Dunlop ended up as a stallion at our Farm in Gundagai. Very keen to get any info about this horse.

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