Im­mor­talised Aussie fans name horse af­ter their favourite pub

Gloucestershire Echo - - SPORT - Melissa JONES [email protected]­

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

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