Our Special connection with that first Tuesday in November.
Many locals driving along Fischer street past Taylor Park and out toward some of our newer residential areas would hardly think that this street name has a special connection with Australia’s most famous horse race.
In January 1889 a group of wealthy and influential businessmen met in the office of Col. John Longville Price in Geelong and decided to form an organisation to look after the interests of the residents and visitors to Spring Creek. As a result of this meeting the Spring Creek Improvement Association was formed, chaired by Col Price with a committee comprising Messrs Fischer, Calder, Rudd, W.B Wilton, W Beales, H Taylor and J.W Taylor. (The name was later changed to the Torquay Improvement Association).
The names of these gentlemen are recognised by street names around town and Taylor’s Park.
Fischer Street is named after Edward Fischer who was born in Vienna in 1821. He was a jeweller and was drawn to the new colony in 1853 during the period of the Gold Rush. Fischer settled in Geelong, setting up a business which was at that time a thriving commercial centre, the hub for the wool export. Many watchmakers and jewellers set up in town meeting the needs of well to do clients.
In a short time, Fischer had established himself as a reputable craftsman. Fischer’s workshop was responsible for most of the gold and silver sporting trophies of the late 19th century in Victoria. From 1873-1890 he produced gold cups for the Geelong Racing Club, Tasmanian Racing Club and Hay Racing Club (NSW).
In 1876 Edward Fischer produced the first ever Australian made trophy for the Melbourne Cup. It was an Etruscan shape with two handles. One side depicted a horse race with the grandstand and hill of Flemington in the background. The opposite side had the words “Melbourne Cup, 1876” and the name of the winning horse. Briseis won the cup that year. Ridden by Peter St. Albans and trained by Mr James Wilson Sr.
It has been said, and has become racing legend, that Peter St Albans was Aboriginal, and the first Aboriginal jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. It is legend because Peter was only 13 years old and too young to ride in the 1876 Melbourne Cup. To allow him to race Briseis in the Cup, it was argued his birthdate and parents were unknown, and from this the legend of him being Aboriginal grew. The tale also contends St Albans was left as a baby on the doorstep of one of the stud grooms, Michael Bowden, and raised by him and his wife. This is all strongly denied by his family and his descendants, who say that Michael Bowden and his wife were Peter’s true parents.
Today there is a Briseis Cup Day held annually at the Geelong Racing Club.
As for the trophy, the design changed many times until in the current design of the loving cup made its debut in 1919.