Immortalised Aussie fans name horse after their favourite pub
ALANDLORD known as ‘Delboy’ and his pub’s unique features have been remembered Down Under by a group of very satisfied customers.
Hailing from the Australian town of Warrnambool in Victoria, six friends, led by Ross Lanyon, enjoyed an unforgettable trip to the Cheltenham Festival in 2015, when most of their winnings went behind the bar at the St George’s Vaults.
Run by Del Barnes, the 18th century town centre venue for refreshment once used to hold prisoners in its cells underneath what is now the bar.
It even has its own mystery customer, as glasses have been known to shatter for no reason and orbs have flown round the building in ghostly goingson.
But those looking at the Morphettville racecard on November 5, 2018, were not seeing things.
St George’s Vaults the racehorse, named after the Cheltenham watering hole, won his first race at the worldfamous race ground.
It was not Only Fools and Horses, but a bit of very fine placing indeed.
“It was a great thrill to win with the horse and we had a great time reminiscing about our time in Cheltenham,” said Ross.
“We stumbled across the St George’s Vaults on our first day there and loved the atmosphere.
“The people and publican Delboy were very friendly - we ended up coming back nearly every day.
“We bought the horse the year after the trip and as it was still fresh in our minds, that’s how he got his name.”
Delboy, whose real name is Derek Barnes, has spent the last 14 years running the pub on St George’s Place.
Many of his customers like a bet and they have enjoyed various excursions to race meetings together.
Former National Hunt champion jockey John Francome was once invited to do a speech at the pub, where pictures of horses and jockeys adorn the walls.
Ross and his friends Darren, DG, Travis, Shane and Scott felt right at home during post-racing celebrations.
“We are all jump racing enthusiasts fromaustraliaand heard so much about the Cheltenham Festival we thought we should go,” Ross continued.
“The first day we were lucky enough to be allowed to walk around the track which was a great thrill.
“We went to the races, ate, drank and enjoyed what the town had to offer.
“We have a jumps festival inaustraliaat Warrnambool every May which we religiously attend.
“They say Cheltenham is Warrnanbool on steroids and boy were they right. The atmosphere walking to the races on the first day was amazing.
“The quality of sport was brilliant, the interaction among the crowd has to be seen to be believed.”
Sandwiched either side of the memorable ‘greatest show on turf’ for the sextet were trips to London and Ireland.
Del happily wished them well while reminiscing about what a good week it had been.
The next time he heard of their adventures was when a chunky parcel arrived at the pub this summer.
As he peeled back the wrapping, he was stunned to find a framed picture of St George’s Vaults winning the Schweppes Maiden Plate for the syndicate, known as Clay Hero Racing and Partners.
Accompanying it was a letter, which brought back all the good memories. “Del Boy,” it began.
“We visited Cheltenham in March 2015 for the jumps festival.
“We spent many, many pleasant hours in your establishment.
“When we got back to Australia we decided to name a horse after the hotel.
“Enclosed is a picture of St George’s Vaults winning at Adelaide, south Australia on Melbourne Cup day.
“We hope you enjoy the picture as much as we did your hotel!”
Del said he remembered the tourists when he saw the picture of them wearing Guinness hats.
“The post was a nice surprise,” he said.
“They went to all that trouble to name the horse after this pub. They had a great time here, they were in morning and night.
“I have been to Australia a couple of times and God willing this might tempt me back.”
St Georges Vaults landlord Del Barnes with the letters and photographs from the Australian syndicate