The Barb Champion Racehorse
The Barb Foaled Near Leehole NSW Wins 1866 Melbourne Cup
Of the relatively short list of Australian Racing Hall of Fame thoroughbreds, one that made his mark on the turf during the early period of flat racing was known as The Barb.
History has not seen fit to divulge whether that name was derived from the eighth century Arab calvary horses that supposedly thrived on fighting, but The Barb certainly seem to love vigorously competing, so much so that he earned the nickname Black Demon.
Accounts of the day often described the stallion as being high strung and temperamental.
Some feel these traits are the result of his being stolen and possibly abused by bush rangers when he was just a foal in New South Wales.
Throws Rider First Time He Races
Whether or not his past contributed to his reputation, it is known that he threw his rider and bolted the first time he took part in a race of any sort.
Owner and trainer John Tait found a way to channel The Barb’s aggressiveness in such a way to generate productivity.
He did this so effectively that the horse won 16 times out of 23 starts, although records of that area are vague regarding the exact number of starts and wins. His first official race resulted in a second place finish in the All Aged Stakes, leaving something between 3 to 6 races for which there is no accounting that may have resulted in DNP’s.
Foaled Near Leehole NSW
The Barb was foaled near Leehole, New South Wales in 1863, the year after Archer won the first two Melbourne Cups.
His sire with Sir Hercules that sired 18 stakes winners and the dam was Fair Ellen. Both sire and dam were predominantly British with the exception of one Irish ancestor.
When the Barb was successfully recovered from his abductors, he was sold for 200 guineas to John Tait, who is sometimes given credit for turning horse racing from a purely recreational pursuit into a moneymaking commercial venture.
He did well in this endeavor, supplying four Melbourne Cup winners as an owner, a record that has never been bested. The winner he supplied in 1871, The Pearl, went off as a 100 to 1 long shot and it could safely be concluded that that event brought a hefty payday to Tait.
That was probably not the case when as a two-year old, The Barb caused Tait to reconsider his 200 Guinea expenditure. First, there was the bolting incident and a third-place finish balanced only against a win in the Nursery Stakes.
The Barb was then spelled for a bit, which seemed to calm the horse’s temperament at least slightly. When he returned to run as a three-year-old, he was clearly in a class of his own. He began by winning the AJC Derby and then won as the favorite in the Melbourne Cup. He then reverted to his old ways, which cost him a victory in the All Aged Stakes, after which he came back for an easy win in the Australasian Champions Stakes.
Wins Launceston Plate Group 1
The Barb continued to post respectable results in 1867, venturing to Tasmania to win the group 1 Launceston Plate and the Port Phillip Stakes. He then returned to the mainland to win the Sydney Cup.
The following season, as a five-year-old, The Barb produced his best results. He raced seven times, winning all seven, including a second Sydney Cup. This success conspired to have him assigned 73 kg for that year’s Melbourne Cup. Tait decided that the risk of losing valuable stud fees was too great, retired The Barb and sold him to Charles Reynolds. He failed to produce any really good runners, however, a few of his daughters did become worthwhile brood mares.
The Barb was 25 years of age when he died in 1888 at Mitta Mitta.
He did satisfy one criterion that is a necessity for inclusion in the Hall of Fame, that of having run against top level competitors, and The Barb could certainly be said to of satisfied that requirement since he went up against 1867 Melbourne Cup winner Tim Whiffler and another notable champion of that era, Fishhook.
Racing Hall Of Fame
The result of his record against other notables was that The Barb was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.