Carbine  Photo:

On this day - April 24

Tim Barton
24 April 2020
Any horse who starred in the early years of the Sydney autumn carnival needed to be both talented and tough. There was no room on the podium for the faint-hearted.

The champion New Zealand galloper Carbine recorded his first win in Sydney when carrying 57kg to win the 3200m Sydney Cup, as a three-year-old, on this day in 1889.

That was a decent effort for three-year-old by any standards but there was more to come.

Carbine had five starts at the meeting in six days, over distances ranging from 1600m to 4800m and recorded four wins and a second.

He was narrowly beaten first-up, in the Autumn Stakes (2400m) but triumphed in the Sydney Cup two days later, carrying 5.5kg over weight-for-age, in race record time.

Carbine raced twice the following day, warming up by winning the All Aged Stakes (1600m), before finishing his shift with victory in the Cumberland Stakes (3200m).
Two days later he won the AJC Plate over 4800m (three miles).

All his races, bar the Sydney Cup, were run at weight-for-age and had fields of six or less but the Sydney Cup was a handicap and had 13 runners.

Carbine followed the same programme at the 1890 carnival, this time spread over a comparatively comfortable eight days, and won all five, including carrying 61kg in the Sydney Cup.

He did not attempt a third Sydney Cup win the following year but tackled the four weight-for-age races again, for three wins and a second. His third AJC Plate win proved to be the last race of his career.

However, his Sydney heroics were still overshadowed by his magnificent victory in the 1890 Melbourne Cup at Flemington. While the weight-for-age races of the era attracted small fields, that was not the case for the Melbourne Cup.

Carbine had finished second in a 20-horse Cup field in 1889, with 63.5kg, but the stake for the 1890 race had almost doubled and Carbine was faced with carrying 66kg against 38 rivals – the biggest field to ever contest the race.

Carbine was always near the pace and won by more than two lengths in a race record time that was to stand for 15 years. But perhaps the most extraordinary statistic from the race was that Carbine was conceding 24kg - yes 24kg - to runner-up Highborn, who was to win the Sydney Cup later in the season with 58.5kg.

Carbine had a career record of 33 wins, six seconds and three thirds from 43 starts and he and Phar Lap were among the inaugural inductees for both the Australian and New Zealand Racing Halls of Fame.

Carbine only raced in New Zealand as a two-year-old, when he was unbeaten from five starts for Riccarton owner-trainer Dan O’Brien, who bought the horse as a yearling.

O’Brien took Carbine to Melbourne as a spring three-year-old and sold him at auction after Carbine had had two wins and a second from three starts in Melbourne.

He was bought by Australian owner Donald Wallace and transferred to leading Melbourne trainer Walter Hickenbotham.

Carbine made a mark as a sire in Australia but was sold to England after four seasons at stud, when Wallace came under financial pressure in the 1890s slump. Carbine had limited success with his early crops in England but later sired the Epsom Derby winner Spearmint.

Carbine had a huge following on both sides of the Tasman and when he was shipped to England, it was estimated that a crowd of more than 7,000 gathered at the wharf in Melbourne, to farewell the horse known as Old Jack.

Carbine died in England in 1914, aged 28

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