Historic racing cup returned to Nelson

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 12:58 23/04/2014
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MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ
DONOR: Malene Vavasour with the Cheviot Cup that she has given to the Nelson Provincial Museum.

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A large silver trophy won in a hotly contested Nelson horse race in 1864, has finally found its way back to Nelson.

The Cheviot Cup has been gifted to the Nelson Provincial Museum by 99-year-old Malene Vavasour, of Brisbane. She is a granddaughter of Thomas Redwood, whose horse Otto won the trophy on the racecourse in Stoke in 1864.

Family members gathered yesterday at the former Redwood homestead, Stafford Place, in Appleby, to mark the event of the trophy's return.

The property is now owned by Diana and Garth Smith, who made their home available for yesterday's gathering, in which the trophy was a centrepiece.

The Cheviot Cup was crafted in 1863 by a London silversmith for wealthy Nelson farmer and racehorse owner William Robinson, who set out to dominate Canterbury horse racing with his celebrated stallion Traducer, Encyclopedia of New Zealand notes show.

He thought his horse would easily win the Cheviot Cup put up at the Nelson Turf Club meeting on March 10 1864, and challenged Thomas Redwood.

However, Redwood's gelding Otto won the race and the trophy has been in the Redwood/Vavasour family ever since.

Records of the 1864 race show it was staged on a racecourse in Stoke, which was where the Turf Hotel is today, and that Ted Cutts was the jockey.

Betting on horse racing then was highly competitive.

Family member Belinda Vavasour, of Blenheim, who travelled to Appleby for yesterday's gathering, said Robinson had been so sure he would win it, he had a special plinth made for the trophy, but refused to hand it over when his horse failed to collect it.

The museum's manager of collections services, Paula Haines-Bellamy, travelled to Brisbane to collect the trophy, after family approached the museum some time ago through a valuer and art dealer.

The family agreed to gift the Cheviot Cup to the museum and the Nelson community.

Haines-Bellamy said the return of the trophy was all the more remarkable for the journey it had been on.

Through family members it had shifted around the country and overseas and it had arrived in Australia via Argentina and the former Rhodesia.

Belinda Vavasour said yesterday it was amazing the trophy had survived so long, and it was great to have it back.

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