State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 44 Spring 1989


Sportsmen: Gus Powell and his Horse “Mosstrooper”

“Mosstrooper”, one of the most remarkable steeplechasers in Australian racing history, was owned and trained by Robert Gustavus (“Gus”) Powell. Following his wins in the Grand National Hurdle and Grand National Steeple in 1930, people (and horses!) from all over Australia wrote to Gus Powell and “Mosstrooper”. These letters were presented to the Library by a descendant of Powell's in 1987. Here are a few of them, complete but for the names and addresses of their writers.
Mr Guss Powell
Dear Sir
I am writing you these few lines to know if you would do me a favour & let one know if Mosstrooper can win the Caulfield Australian double,
I am in a bit of trouble as I am back with my rent & I have lost my husband, so I would take a double with 10/- or 1 if I thought he had a chance I also knew a friend of yours. Mick Howard who has been dead some years, also Mr. Glasscock who lived at upper Maffra.
I will treat anything you tell me in confidence, or if you know anything else likely to get home I would be obliged
I remain
Your friend …
C/o Mr. Gus Powell
23 Wyuna Rd
I trust that you will forgive me for being so bold as to write you, but on hearing from a friend who has a Great Uncle working in one of the Argus Vans, that your Master has been so kind as to give a donation to the Lord Mayor's Fund, has given me the courage to ask, if you, now that you have become famous, could spare just a very small donation from your income for the Society that Protects we animals. I have come in touch with them personally, having had sore shoulders and lameness. They were very good to me. We have a rest home of about 40 acres the other side of Ashburton, where we are turned out for a spell and kept for nothing if our Masters can not afford to pay for us. We are fed well and rugged. I will never have the pleasure of meeting you, but my friends who draw the harrows at Flemington, and my cousins at Caulfield have promised faithfully to see that the straight is kept nice and smooth for you when you make your appearance in the Aust. Hurdle and Steeple, and we hope you will be first home in those long journeys. But I suppose now you are a gentleman of means you will retire. If you should send a donation I know our very good friend Mr. Latham of Latham House, Swanston St., Melb. will put it to the very best of use.
I beg to remain, dear Sir, always your humble and obident servent.
The harrow horse.

Mr. G. Powell
Dear Sir
I have composed a little piece of poetry about your horse (Mosstrooper) and am enclosing it to see what you think of it I am a sick boy fourteen years of age I had to leave school on account of my health a year ago, so I am not a very good scholar I can only read and not allowed to do too much of that either I take an interest in all kinds of sport, and love reading about horses! How you must have been thrilled when your beautiful horse was winning all those big races My Father has an old grey pony and I remember, before I got sick seeing her win a pony race The stake was worth 2 and I got terribly excited I have a picture of Mosstrooper cut out of the Australasian (off the cover) hanging beside my bed I heard the race run to-day on my cousin's wireless and thoroughly enjoyed it I thought I would like to send this little piece of poetry to a Newspaper if you think it is good enough It is my first attempt. Will you be kind enough to let me know what you think of it Do not be afraid to tell me
Yours Faithfully …


We have heard of Donald Bradman
How he broke the record score
But a little horse like Mosstrooper
We have never known before
He smashed old Redleaps record
He has knocked it right for six
When he gave such a good exhibition
Over the Caulfield sticks
We have read how the wonderful Phar Lap
Cantered in with over nine stone
But over the hurdles and fences
Mosstrooper stands alone
We also hear of Clarrie Grimmett
How he sends in a googley ball
But our wonderful horse Mosstrooper
Ranks above them all
He goes out for an exercise gallop
With good horses on the flat
He runs into a fourth position
Now paste that in your hat
And we must not forget R. N. Harris
Who was always cool and gentle
When Mosstrooper galloped home ahead
Of Lord Darnley and old Kentle
Now we come to the Owner trainer
A wonderful judge of a horse
He must have had in view, those nationals two
Over the Flemington course
I'll bet Gus Powell's smiling
At his wonderful run of luck
But his game little horse Mosstrooper
Was always full of pluck
Now if he starts next Saturday
Tho we know he's good over the sticks
It is asking a lot of our champion
To win with Thirteen stone six