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Richard “Darby” McCarthy - Queensland History of Racing

Queensland History of Racing

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Richard “Darby” McCarthy

The Basics

Categories: Jockeys
Region: The Outback


mal barnes, mullala, stradbroke handicap, vo rogue

A trailblazer for indigenous jockeys in Australia, Ricahrd "Darby" McCarthy rode with great success in Europe where he scored in more than 1000 races. Originally from western Queensland, he came to Brisbane in his early teens and quickly established himself as a big race rider. In a golden period from 1963 to 1969 he rode big race winner after winner. Richard "Darby" McCarthy

His major Australian successes included the Stradbroke Handicap (Mullala, Cele's Image, Castanea), AJC Epsom (Broker's Tip), Brisbane Cup (Apa), AJC Derby (Divide and Rule), Doomben 10,000 (Gay Gauntlet), QTC Exhibition Handicap (Mullala, Oxford King), Summer Cup (Midswain), Tattersall's Cup (Dow Street), Autumn Stakes (El Ungar), Lilley Handicap (Iruklam), Healy Stakes (New Zealand), Brisbane Handicap (Mullala), Caddell-Garrick Handicap (Tondawanna), Moreton Handicap (Apa) and Sandgate Handicap (Mullala).


Ray Vahry knew Darby as an apprentice when he was apprenticed to his master Mal Barnes. Ray's Uncle had a boat hiring business and he would hire out the boats around Breakfast Creek for him and then as soon as he could help trainers swim the horses. All the leading Brisbane trainers and their jockeys would be there and the yarns told would fascinate him. 

Ray remarks thst Darby had one of the best masters any young jockey could wish for, Mal Barnes. Mal had his humble stables at Nudgee Beach & would mainly work his horses on the beach. Darby would sleep with the horses, and be up before sun rise doing his chores.

Twice a week Mal would bring his horses to Cribb Island where Ray or his Uncle Bill Vahry would give them a two minute swim in what was known as Vahry's creek. Mal often said swimming horses in a salt water creek was the best training a horse could have. It must have been since they swam horses such as as Tullock, Redcrase Winfrux Divinve & Rule to name a few. It was nothing to swim 100 horses on Sunday morning.

The first time Ray met Darby he was so quiet and had very soft hands.
"We all know what a brillant rider Darby was. I feel he learn't  much of this from his quietly spoke master A master of setting a horse for a particular race. Mal once said to me, Ray save your money for twelve months I'll win next years Australia Cup with this horse. the horse was Dream King  which duly won in the 1950's ridden by The Shoe, Mel Schumaker.

Mel also had a very good apprentice Larry Olsen who went on to win the Melbourne Cup on Kensie."

"By the way Vic Rail used to bring down an average galloper to swim in the creek, a very plain looking horse by the name of Vo Rouge..."

Thanks to Ray Vahry for this contribution.


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