Carbine: Thoroughbred Champion

Carbine: Thoroughbred racing started in Australia during the mid-1800s and proceeded for roughly 150 years before the Australian Racing Hall of Fame launched in 2001. During that time, thousands of horses raced in thousands of events, so the inaugural class of horse inductees selected came from the largest pool ever.

Five horses gained entry in 2001. This is the story of one of those five, Carbine. Even the non-horse racing public will recognise the name and he was without doubt one of the all-time greats. The fact that his reputation persisted from when he ran in the late 1800s until the Hall of Fame opened shows just how enduring were his accomplishments.

He was foaled in New Zealand in 1885 at Sylvia Park Stud, nor far from Auckland. His sire, Musket, ran 14 times in Great Britain, winning nine times and finishing second twice. His owners shipped him to New Zealand in 1878. Musket died in 1885, just long enough to gain his own measure of immortality by contributing DNA to his famous progeny. Carbine’s dam was Mersey. She followed Musket from Great Britain in 1881, eventually to Victoria from New Zealand and died in 1897.

Historical accounts from Carbine’s time describe a fluid, efficient gate and the ability to adapt to various distances and track conditions. He not only won from the jump, he could close in the stretch. He could run even when injured. All those traits contribute to a thoroughbred’s success and Carbine possessed them all and others to an exceptional extent.

Unlike other horses, great and only passable, Carbine, or “Old Jack,” won his first five jumps as a two-year-old, needing no time at all to gain the feel of the turf beneath his hooves. Those five wins happened in New Zealand. Those results prompted his connections to send him to Australia for his three-year-old campaign.

Carbine made 13 starts at three, winning nine. One of those, the AJC Sydney Cup, featured him carrying more than his allotted weight. He suffered interference also, leaving him in last position, but he ran the field down in the final sprint and won the two-mile event whilst setting a course record. The Cumberland Stakes represented Carbine’s first significant win in 1888. During the spring of that year, he won the Sydney Cup, the All Aged Stakes and the AJC Plate. For further information about horse racing sections we recommend

Carbine Sold To Syndicate

Inexplicably, or possibly out of dire financial necessity, Carbine’s owner and trainer, Dan O’Brien, sold the young champion to a syndicate interested in racing him at Flemington, Rosehill and other major metropolitan tracks. That group realised a substantial return on their investment when Carbine ran 18 times in his next two seasons and won 17 of those races. On four of those 17 wins, Carbine actually jumped twice on the same day!

One of those was the 1890 Melbourne Cup where he beat 38 other horses whilst carrying a record setting weight, in fact, he lugged 24 kg. more than Highborn that finished second. He did that whilst establishing a new record for time.

He won his third consecutive AJC Plate in his third attempt, but the decision of his connections prevented him from attempting the Melbourne Cup in 1891. A chronic heel injury that caused issues for Carbine throughout his career prompted that decision. His owner Donald Wallace retired him to stud soon thereafter.

Carbine did all right as a stud. In 1892, he serviced Melodius to produce Wallace, a horse that had stayer blood to such as degree as to win at the unimaginable distance of 24 furlongs, roughly three miles. Carbine sired horses that won over 200 races. He produce more winners after shipping to England in 1895. One of his offspring was UK Triple Crown winner Nijinsky and another, Johren, won the Belmont Stakes in the United States in 1918 after finishing fourth in the Preakness Stakes and beating Kentucky Derby winner Exterminator in the Latonia Derby.

That New Zealand stayer’s blood of Carbine trickled down through the veins of 65 descendants that won the Melbourne Cup betwixt 1914 and 1978.

Carbine Blood Line Worthy

Eight of the nine horses that won more than $10 million from racing can trace their lines to Carbine. Two notable examples exist in the records of Makybe Diva and Sunline.

He lived to a respectable age of almost 30 before a stroke in 1914 required euthanisation. He retired from racing after making 43 jumps, producing 33 wins and 9 placings. By backing his results on the track with equal prowess as a sire, he did what few had done before him and what few have done since.

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