The Falkland Islands Government have released a collector’s coin which marks the 100th meeting of the Stanley Sports Association, the annual Horse racing event of the season that has taken place since 1908 on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas.
In 1909 it was decided a new location was needed and land behind Sullivan House was offered for the purpose, and this location has been the site of the current Stanley Racecourse.
During the inaugural year, Governor Allardyce pledged a silver cup for a race to be run over 700 yards, this became known as the “Governors Cup” and it is still today, the most coveted event on the program. Several other prestigious races have been generously sponsored by the same families for almost a century.
With the exception of cancellations during World War I (1914) and World War II, the meeting has been staged every year. Since the Victory Meeting of March 1947, the Stanley Sports Association has continued to stage this important annual event on the Falklands social calendar.
The popularity of the races increased rapidly and the 1910 meeting became a two day event with 15 mounted events on the first day and 18 foot events on the second with more sponsored races appearing soon after. In recent years, the annual Race Meetings were expanded into three day events with the third day dedicated to gymkhana and fun events.
Over the years, as entries in the horse races have dwindled, with motorbikes replacing them as an everyday form of transport on farms, the only thing that has disrupted racing in the last 104 years has been war, and an occasional postponement due to the weather. So, as long as there is a dedicated team of organizers, and horses to be ridden, you can rest assured there will be a gathering of like-minded folk enjoying a Falklands post-Christmas tradition that has spanned more than a century.
For more information on the “Governor’s Cup” and Falklands’ sports, a book recently launched, “The Christmas Sports” written by Patrick Watts MBE is most recommendable. Patrick not only did all the research with help from the locals, including Nick and Sheila Hadden but was the official race commentator for the past 40 years of the event. Sheila Hadden with Sinfonia was the first woman to win the ‘Governor’s Cup’ in 1953.
The charming reverse design of the coin includes a depiction of a Horse’s head, reins attached – ready for entry into the Governor’s Cup. Along the primary design, the text “STANLEY SPORTS ASSOCIATION” placed to the left half with “100TH RACE MEETING” along the right half. The obverse includes the commemorative effigies of HM Queen Elizabeth II introduced during her Diamond Jubilee year, which includes the conjoined images of the Queen as she first appeared on British coinage as well as her current image. The coin’s year of issue “2012” also appears on the obverse.
Struck by the Pobjoy Mint, UK in both sterling silver and cupro-nickel, the coin has a weight of 28 grams and a diameter of 38.6 mm. A total of 10,000 silver pieces has been authorized while the cupro-nickel strike is unlimited.