Almanac Horseracing: Revisiting Murtoa Cup Day 2008 – Danga’s got the gout





It’s Murtoa Cup Day and John Harms wishes he was on the road to the meeting this morning. He’ll be on Northwest Passage to lead all the way in the main race.


Turnbull Stakes: Verry Elleegant

Epsom:  Star of the Seas



To get in the mood, here’s the report of his day at the Murtoa Cup in 2008.



SOME would say the best racing in Australia yesterday was at Flemington. They’d refer to the season opener as Turnbull Stakes Day. Others would say it was at Randwick. They’d call it Epsom Day.


But they’d be wrong. The first day of the spring carnival should be called Murtoa Cup Day.


I lobbed in Murtoa on Friday night, just in time for the cup calcutta. There was big news at the Railway Hotel. “Danga’s got the gout,” Leo Delahunty told me, chuckling. I got the same mail from every second patron. And when Danga limped in, there was no doubt. My memory is of fur-lined slippers with the toe cut out and saggy tracky dacks.


The bar was rocking with stories of gout, and in expectation of a big weekend. The boys were missing Donk Delahunty, who was overseas visiting the Alamo in honour of Private (“Remember the Alamo”) Duffy from F-Troop. But his mates were there and they could quote the great old show chapter and verse, as well.


I drew Methodical Boy in the calcutta, which was very fortunate because he’s one of the most reliable country cups performers going around. But it was also serendipitous because a bloke at the North Fitzroy Arms in Melbourne, impish wine merchant Bing Badham, had (during the week) declared Methodical Boy in the Murtoa Cup. “The only thing in doubt,” he crowed, “is the colour of the wife of the owner’s frock at the cup presentation.” (He’s old school.)


Roll Me and Tradesman’s Choice went for top dollar, but it was difficult to work out the form in what was a very even field.


All roads led to Murtoa yesterday and the crowd was in good form. The Dartmoor footy club’s end-of-season trip had started early. There had been debate at the committee meeting over what should be printed on their shirts. Razzle wanted a pink shirt with “Dartmoor Dags at the Murtoa Nags” on it, but his push was unsuccessful, and they settled on “Pissin’ up at the Murtoa Cup.”


Ray ‘Slippery’ Albert – fireman, environmentalist and veteran of 608 games (Razzle said, “Yeah, three footy and 605 netball”) wore his shirt proudly but couldn’t seem to back a winner.


My first on-course bet of the spring suggested I was a little rusty. I backed Our Shanagolden in the maiden – with a bookie at $9. It won and I was a little perturbed to hear it paid $19 on the tote.


Being a warm day, the crowd was thirsty and as the horses paraded for the cup, it was clear they had been determined to keep the fluids up. One local had arrived in a pair of black leather pants with the backside cut out of them. (I hadn’t noticed a bondage shop in Murtoa). His cheeks were bright pink but not from the sunshine. Every single person who walked past him seemed obliged to slap his wobbly bot.


Punters cheered for Sphenophyta in the Turnbull, but the roar wasn’t nearly as loud as when the local horse, Delabee, hit the front halfway down the running at Murtoa (every second person was a Delahunty, the family who owns the honest toiler).


Vin (‘The Albatross’) Delahunty thought he was going to see his horse win live for the first time when Methodical Boy loomed. The Boy got on terms, but Delabee fought on. In a stirring finish, the O’Leary-trained visitor did enough to win. Methodical Boy is so consistent.


Yes, Bing Badham, it’ll be even harder to shut you up now. I should tell you now that, in your absence, the owner, Mrs Crouch, was wearing black.


Read more from John Harms HERE.


Read about the new book celebrating Minyip-Murtoa’s dual premiership (footy and netball) in 2019 and order your copy too: HERE.


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About John Harms

JTH is a writer, publisher, speaker, historian. He is publisher and contributing editor of The Footy Almanac and He has written columns and features for numerous publications. His books include Confessions of a Thirteenth Man, Memoirs of a Mug Punter, Loose Men Everywhere, Play On, The Pearl: Steve Renouf's Story and Life As I Know It (with Michelle Payne). He appears (appeared?) on ABCTV's Offsiders. He can be contacted [email protected] He is married to The Handicapper and has three school-age kids - Theo, Anna, Evie. He might not be the worst putter in the world but he's in the worst four. His ambition was to lunch for Australia but it clashed with his other ambition - to shoot his age.


  1. Peso 2020 Murtoa Cup winner.

    Methodical Boy was part owned by Phil O’Connell, who was the publican at the Royal Oak in North Fitzroy for many moons.

    Went to Murtoa races once.

    When will I get to the races again?!?


  2. Hayden Kelly says

    Good story .For me Derby Day is not Derby Day its Wycheproof Cup Day albeit it wont be this year . Same question Glen when will I get to go to the races again .

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