Cup stopped a town
John Letts recalls his 1980 win at the Melbourne Cup
IT’S not every day that there is a Melbourne Cup-winning jockey in Mount Perry.
As part of the Melbourne Cup tour, John Letts spoke of his win on Beldale Ball while visiting the North Burnett.
“It was an interesting one because I had never heard of Beldale Ball,” he said.
Beldale Ball was an American horse that was owned by Robert Sangstar, who didn’t quite live up to expectations in Australia.
“Sometimes you feel that there is someone up there looking after you and I saw him run in the Moonee Valley Cup,” Mr Letts said.
Upon seeing Beldale Ball race, Mr Letts asked Colin Hayes for the name of the horse.
“He said, ‘That’s Beldale Ball, he’s not much good’,” he said.
But Mr Letts saw his potential and thought “I would ride him in the Melbourne Cup”.
He was told by Hayes there was a better horse that he could ride and he had until the next day to make up his mind.
“So I said that I would ride Beldale Ball and I won’t ride the other one and he said, ‘You picked the wrong one’.”
Mr Letts then rode Beldale Ball on the Saturday and he rode second.
“When I came in, as you know, everybody goes to the winning stall and they all went to Bohemian Grove and I ran second, Robert came up to me after that had died down a little bit and said, ‘What did you think of the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday’,” he said.
Mr Letts told Robert Sangstar that he would win the race.
“He replied with, ‘I think Bohemian Grove will’, and I said ‘No he won’t,’ I said he
❝ Sometimes you feel that there is someone up there looking after you. — John Letts
will never beat this horse ever again in his life.”
Mr Letts believed Beldale Ball would win the Melbourne Cup.
“I said that will be one of your biggest wins.”
When Mr Letts won the Cup on the Tuesday he came in after the race and said to Robert Sangstar, “What do you think now of the Melbourne Cup?”
“He said, ‘This is the greatest race in the world’.”
Robert Sangstar was the leading owner in the world at that stage.
CUP ROYALTY: John Letts recalls winning a Melbourne Cup on Beldale Ball.