THE JERICHO CUP
Some of you may be interested in the history of the Jericho Cup which is being run at Warnambool in Victoria this Sunday. The Jericho Cup is the longest race in OZ, racing with a history back to WW1.
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The Jericho Cup
Harry Chauvel was a Lieutenant General in command of the Desert Mounted Corps, in Palestine, in 1917-18. Chauvel was the first Australian to be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and to command an Army Corps. Chauvel was described as a commander that understood the capabilities of his mounted troops; used them wisely, took calculated risks and withdrew when necessary; and kept losses to a minimum.
Chauvel in September of 1918 was able to effect a secret redeployment of three of his mounted divisions and launch a surprise attack on the Turkish Army that won the Battle of Megiddo.
The ruse, to allow Chauvel to amass some 34,000 light horsemen, hidden in the orange groves near Jaffa, was a five-event race meeting, held in full view of the Turkish Army, watched by over 10,000 spectators. The main event, or race, was called the Jericho Cup.
The race meeting is described in full in Chapter 24, “The Ruse” in Rowland Perry’s book “Bill the Bastard”.
Bill the Bastard was entered into the main race, a three-mile event and was ridden by an Aboriginal horse handler, come jockey, whose name was Jackie Mullagh. Bill won the race by half a length, beating the race favourite Khartoum.
Within twenty-four hours of the ruse, the Jericho Cup, Chauvel’s corps was positioned thirty to forty miles behind the disorganized Turkish armies, astride their communications and moving to seize the few crossings of the Jordan. The battle of Megiddo was one of the most completely successful operations of the Suez / Palestine campaigns.
The Warrnambool Racing Club will be re-running the Jericho Cup commencing from the 100th anniversary of the original race, in 2018 to honour Bill the Bastard, the Australian Light Horsemen and their magnificent mounts, the Walers.