To the jumps racing community, Mosstrooper is known as one of the most incredible jumps horses in Australia’s history, but to the family of Mr. Richard Turnbull, Mosstrooper was “terribly kind but a nuisance” according to Turnbull’s great granddaughter, Elida Beugelaar.
Mosstrooper got his first taste of racing when he raced on the flat from 1923 – 1927. However his disappointing performance made it clear to his owner, R. Turnbull and Trainer J. Mulcahy, flat racing was not where Mosstrooper’s talents lied.
Housed at Anne Clemens residence in Gembrook during his flat racing career, it became clear that jumping was a natural talent to Mosstrooper. Initially Mosstrooper was put in a house paddock which was surrounded by six foot high fences. These proved to be no match for Mosstrooper as he would jump the fences with ease.
“When they called him in for dinner they’d watch him jump all the fences home,” said Beugelaar.
It was Mosstrooper’s incredible performance over these paddock fences that led to his jumps racing career. In March 1927 Mosstrooper was sold to Mr. Gus Powell, a well-known horse-dealer and racing identity at the time.
With Powell as his owner and trainer, Mosstrooper went on to win 11 jumps races including the Australian Hurdle in 1929 and 1930, and both the Grand National Hurdle and Grand National Steeplechase in 1930. He also placed in jumps races on 10 other occasions.
It is believed that Mosstrooper was named as a tribute to Turnbull’s family heritage. 'Moss-trooper' was the name given to the mid-17 Century brigands of the Scotland and North England border.
“My understanding is that the Turnbull’s have roots in the area,” said Beugelaar referring to the Scottish and English border.
As a tribute to Mosstrooper’s outstanding jumps racing career, the Australian jumps racing season includes an annual Mosstrooper Steeplechase. The 2020 Mosstrooper Steeplechase is this Sunday (17th July) at Pakenham.