Vale Darby McCarthy


On behalf of Australia’s jockeys, present and past, the Australian Jockeys Association expresses its deepest sympathies to the family of celebrated Queensland Hall of Fame Jockey, Darby McCarthy, who has passed away in Queensland aged 76.

In a remarkable life both in an out of the saddle, Darby had a profound influence on many people.

In the forward to the book about his life, Against All Odds, Cathy Freeman wrote,

“He may not realise this, but Darby influenced me and encouraged me to strive for excellence in all that I do and to persevere against all odds and for this I will forever be thankful. We first met in Queensland when I was 15 and Darby and his family were kind enough to let me stay on weekends away from boarding school at Toowoomba."

Darby McCarthy’s journey started in Cunnamulla in Queensland and after leaving school early he worked on Yakara station.

In what were different times, his first race ride was at age 10 at an unregistered race meeting. He came home a 6-length winner.

In Brisbane, he won three Stradbrokes, the Brisbane Cup and the Doomben 10,000. In Sydney he won an AJC Derby and an Epsom.

He later rode in Europe before returning to Australia and eventually settled in Victoria where his natural gift as a horseman and jockey saw him succeed, before he ran foul of the VRC stewards and Committee. Stewards disqualified him for seven years but later, the Victoria Racing Club reduced the penalty to two years and then “removed” it altogether, mysteriously declining to say why.

In 2007, McCarthy was finally given a formal pardon over the race-fixing scandal over which he had always declared his innocence.

Lauren Callaway, the author of Against All Odds, wrote,

". . . Darby does his part in advancing the breakdown of barriers between Aboriginal people and white Australians. He either changes people's attitudes by simply being himself - or gives them something positive to remember about a great bloke they met who happens to be an Aboriginal”.

Darby McCarthy’s impact on racing as a jockey was rightly acknowledged with his induction into the Queensland Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.

AJA Chairman Des O’Keeffe said on Thursday, “At this time we mourn Darby’s passing but celebrate his outstanding contribution to both his people and to Australian horse racing.”