Former Wallaby Morgan Turinui has shared the epic story of his 2003 Melbourne Cup triumph that earned him an all-time tongue lashing from his coach Eddie Jones.
On the debut episode of Between Two Posts on Stan Sport, horse racing enthusiast Turinui took a trip down memory lane from his time with the Test team at the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
The Wallabies had just edged Ireland in a 17-16 thriller and were preparing for their quarterfinal against Scotland.
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But in between tough training sessions, the team gathered to watch the race that stops a nation, camera crews and all.
Already a savvy punter at 21-years-old, Turinui had bid $2000 for an at the time “unknown horse” named Makybe Diva in the team’s Calcutta.
“I had to go to Jeremy Paul afterwards and say ‘look, mate, my Commonwealth Bank Dollarmite account, my maximum withdrawal is $800 so can I pay tomorrow?’
“He looked after me,” Turinui said.
Turinui had also dabbled on a trifecta and first four bet while making a trip to the Coffs Harbour TAB with teammates Chris Whitaker and Nathan Grey that day.
“I go ‘boys, give me some cash, I’ll put one on.’
“Tight arses, they go ‘no, no.’ Greysie, still tight and Whits, no idea, they go ‘no, no, don’t worry about it, we don’t want to waste our money.’ I said ‘are you sure?’ Nope, no good.”
Bad decision: Turinui’s selections were Makybe Diva, She’s Archie, Jardines Lookout, Pentastic and Frightening.
“Makybe Diva comes through, I’m just running around, I’ve won $16,000, it’s probably my whole contract at the Waratahs,” Turinui recalls.
“The trifecta pays $12,000, 1.66 times so about $20,000. So I’ve won $36,000, Jeremy Paul says ‘mate, tell Beaver (Jones), give him $500 and go down to the pub, just miss training and pay the fine.’ And I said ‘oh, my first four tickets are live, I’ve still got two horses here for first four.’ No-one knew what was happening, they’re interviewing the trainer, everyone’s cheering.”
But with so much going on Turinui didn’t quite know how much he had won as Jones came to crash the party.
“Eddie Jones gets up and goes ‘Morgan mate, it’s time to start training mate, we really need to focus now, preparing for Scotland this weekend mate. So you’ve had a good win, really important mate that you train well. Train well, be mature about it mate.’
“So alright, Beaver goes through the team, the team’s announced, I didn’t even hear the team announced, we’re all laughing up the back, no-one cares,” Turinui said.
“I could feel the weight in my pockets already, the cash. And then the great Wallaby manager Phil Thomson steps outside, comes back in, we’re ready to train.
“He goes ‘oh Morgs, what did you have?’ I said ‘I’ve got Pentastic and Frightening I think it is for fourth.’ And he goes ‘are you sure?’
“I said ‘yeah’ and he goes ‘well Pentastic’s run fourth and the first four has paid $105,000.’ And so the room has just gone bananas.”
But while most Australians in that situation would be shouting the bar, the Wallabies do have the small matter of a World Cup quarterfinal to prepare for.
Turinui “somehow” gets through the session before Jones lines the happy punter up once more.
“He comes up to me and goes ‘mate, you trained that badly, I thought you had 120 grand in your pockets, mate. You’re a disgrace mate. Mate, the players don’t even want you here, mate. If you’re not serious about rugby go and be a professional punter, mate. No-one here cares.’
“But the good thing about Beaver is that half an hour later he forgets about it and has a beer with you.”
Turinui didn’t reveal what he spent his winnings on, other than to say: “that’s about one term of Sydney’s private school fees.”