While a foal at foot, The Barb was stolen from his home near Bathurst by bushrangers. He was later recovered far to the south in the Monaro district.


TRAINER: John Tait, James Ashworth

OWNERS:John Tait

RACE RECORD/STAKE MONEY: 22 starts: 16 wins, 2 seconds, 1 third/$4,425

Major Wins 

  • Melbourne Cup
  • Sydney Cup (twice)
  • AJC Derby
  • AJC St Leger
  • AJC Metropolitan Handicap
  • AJC Queen's Plate
  • Australasian Champion Stakes
  • VRC Port Phillip Stakes


The undisputed champion of the Australian turf until Carbine came on the scene late in the 19th century, was the superbly proportioned, jet-black stallion named The Barb. The fiery temperament that he sometimes exhibited was said to have been a legacy of the ill-treatment he received while in the hands of bushrangers.

For most of his career The Barb was trained by his owner John Tait, the first person in Australia to make horseracing a commercial business. After a promising start as a two-year-old, The Barb blossomed as a three-year-old. After winning the AJC Derby, Tait took him south for the VRC spring meeting, where he won the Melbourne Cup and the Australasian Champion Stakes, then the premier weight-for-age event in the colonies.

As a four-year-old The Barb confirmed his champion status by winning the Port Phillip Stakes, the Launceston Town Plate, and the Sydney Cup carrying 10st 8lbs (67kg); a weight record no other horse has ever approached in winning the Cup. When The Barb was given a huge 11st 7lbs (73kg) in the 1869 Melbourne Cup, Tait decided to retire him to stud.

The Barb was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.

Image Source: Australian Racing Museum Collection