Kevin Ashley BACON, OAM, ASM - Olympic Horseman
I have not had the privilege of meeting Kevin Ashley BACON, my 2nd Cousin, once removed, (his Grandmother Eliza, and my Great Grandmother, Emily, were sisters), but it would be a pleasure not often afforded to anyone in Australia. Kevin tends to occupy himself with 'horse people' of the world, and lives in Europe (Paris ?), as far as I know. However, that doesn't stop me from writing about him and his services to the sport of Show Jumping.
Kevin was born in Dungog, NSW, Australia, on the 20th March, 1932, to Royal Charles 'Roy' BACON and Ethel Irene BACON - née COOTE.
I don't know anything of his childhood, growing up in Dungog. He still has family living in the area, as far as I know, which means I do, too. I remember my Grandmother, Pauline, telling me stories of Kevin's prowess, during my youth, and with each telling, Kevin seemed taller, stronger, more daring, and more successful, than before. He certainly had a 'fan' in Pauline. I think that was primarily due to her close relationship with Emily.
Kevin represented Australia at the Tokyo Olympics, in 1964, where he finished 7th in the Team Show Jumping event, with Thomas Fahey and Bridget MacIntyre. In the Individual event, he finished 30th, on a horse called 'Ocean Foam', owned by International showjumping course designer, the late Ted Dwyer.
His peculiar style of riding was to mark Kevin as unique, and the most common remark was about how much daylight was visible between Kevin and his saddle. It was often the case that Kevin was actually not touching the horse, except with his hands! He soon became a favourite on the jumping circuit and certainly, during his time, probably the foremost show-jumper in Australia. Kevin was to compete in a further two Olympics. At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, Mexico, he placed 18th in the individual show jumping event on his horse 'Chichester'. He teamed up with John Fahey and Sam Campbell to be placed ninth in the team show jumping event.
In the Australian Show Jumping Championships, conducted by the Equestrian Federation of Australia, in Canberra, during 1969, Kevin won both the first, and second places! He rode 'Rajah' into first place, and 'Simon' into second place... quite an uncommon feat.
At the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Canada, he placed 37th in the individual show jumping event, once again on his horse 'Chichester'. Later, when he teamed up with Guy Creighton and Barry Roycroft, they placed equal 9th in the team show jumping event.
1976 was also to be a special year as it was at the Nations Cup event in Melbourne, that Kevin teamed up with to ride in the Australian team with Robbie Allen, Eric Musgrove, and Gavin Chester, to beat the French and New Zealand teams, in the first truly international teams event in Australia.
Kevin's career had, by now, well and truly taken off, and he was winning regularly on international circuits, including four-time champion at Madison Square Gardens, and several Grand Prix contests in Paris and Canada. His famous horse, 'Chichester', was ridden by Kevin, to win the Berlin International.
In 1994, Kevin Bacon was awarded the Order of Australia Medal, and on 2 November 2000, he was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his equestrian achievements.
A true sporting Champion!
The book - "Kevin Bacon: Australia's Extraordinary Horseman": By Betty Lane Holland was published in 2002 and is a remarkable and heartwarming story of an Aussie battler who rose to be hailed as one of the greatest show jump riders in the world.