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Surgeon ran the good race

Tuesday, 9th January, 2018

Dr Gordon Ormandy in 2011 with his life membership badge. Dr Ormandy was the St Patrick’s Racing Club’s first president and its first life member. Dr Gordon Ormandy in 2011 with his life membership badge. Dr Ormandy was the St Patrick’s Racing Club’s first president and its first life member.

By Craig Brealey

The first president of the St Patrick’s Race Club, Dr Gordon James Ormandy, has died in Adelaide at the age of 86. 

Dr Ormandy first came to Broken Hill in 1964 to work as a surgeon at the hospital and a year later he was invited to head a new race club that was being formed to raise money for the Catholic schools.

He had only been to three race meetings in his life, in Sydney, but he accepted the job, telling the club: “If you can give me a committee that knows racing, I’ll chair the meetings.”

That first meeting was a great success with the public, thanks in no small part to Dr Ormandy coming up with the idea of having fresh oysters flown in from Sydney and getting the Guinness brewing company to provide the stout.

The race committee also came to an arrangement with Guinness to underwrite the first meeting to the tune of 2500 pounds to ensure it went ahead.

Dr Ormandy stayed on as president as the popularity of the St Pat’s races grew and it became established on the national racing calendar.

In Broken Hill, he was part of a syndicate that owned local champion Felix Boy who won races all over country South Australia, Victoria and in Adelaide.

After racing one day, Felix Boy pulled up sore so Dr Ormandy asked the trainer, Ross Brealey, to bring him to the hospital for an x-ray.

Mr Brealey said he thought the doctor was joking but he took the stallion in a float to the hospital where Dr Ormandy and another member of the syndicate, Dr Vince Barron, were waiting, and unloaded him on the front lawn.

He was then asked to lead him to the back of the hospital where he saw the x-ray team waiting next to the machine that they had wheeled outside. 

In 1975 Dr Ormandy, his wife Joy and their four children left the city to live in Adelaide where he kept a strong interest in the racing game as an owner. There he was co-owner of another champion, Arbogast, which won the Liverpool Cup in Sydney and ran second to the mighty Kingston Town in 1981.   

Margaret Corradini, who was the longest-serving president of St Pat’s, said that Gordon and Joy Ormandy, who was also honoured with life membership of the club, rarely missed a St Pat’s meeting in all their years in Adelaide. 

“They weren’t born here; Gordon just came out here to work, but they said that Broken Hill had got into their blood,” said Ms Corradini.

“And do you know, that first committee never thought that it would go for more than two years. They only formed the committee to get some money for the Catholic schools which did not get any government money in those days.”

Ms Corradini said that she appreciated the loyalty that the Ormandys gave to St Pat’s.

“They came back every year for 50 years and only missed a couple of meetings.

“They were always amazed at the improvements and how we moved with the times, and were thankful that we were carrying on the vision.

“Gordon was a delightful man and a gentleman to the end.”

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