In a previous life, the Sydney Cup was a target race in the autumn, almost to the level that current day trainers target the Melbourne Cup. In fact, our two best stayers from the 19th century both won consecutive Sydney Cups and our two greatest ever staying mares have also won the two mile autumn feature. In the 20th century Bart’s best-ever stayer won the Cup along with TJ’s second best ever horse. The race really was targeted in previous generations by the best stayers. Just recently, the Sydney Cup has been won by some particularly slow horses, but this year the race seems to be destined to contain more classy horses. Here is a description of some of the best performance ever in the races 146 year history.
The Barb won consecutive Sydney Cups in 1868 and 1869. Interestingly the Black Demon, as The Barb was known beat the same horse in both his Sydney Cup wins (Stumpy). The Barb’s second win in 1869 was so remarkable because of the weight he carried; burdened with 10.8, just over 67kg in today’s terms, The Barb conceded 20kg to Stumpy, yet still beat him pointlessly. The Barb also won the 1866 Melbourne Cup and in 1869 after winning his second Sydney Cup, The Black Demon was handicapped with 11.7 (74kg) for the Melbourne Cup to be run later that year. This is still the biggest weight ever assigned in the Melbourne Cup. Unsurprisingly, The Barb did not proceed to the race.
While the Barb is widely considered the second best horse of the 1800s, Carbine was no doubt the greatest. The Kiwi bred champion of champions won the Sydney Cup in 1889 and 1890. Here is what makes these back to back Cup wins so remarkable. On April 22 1889, as a three-year-old, Carbine ran second in the WFA Randwick Autumn Stakes over a mile and a half (2400m). Two days later on 24 April 1889, Carbine won the Sydney Cup over two miles (3200m) with 9.0 (57kg). The next day, 25 April 1889, a date that 26 years later would become part of Australian culture, Carbine won race 2, the one mile (1600m) All-Aged Stakes; three races later, Carbine won the two mile Cumberland Stakes. Although Anzac Day did not yet exist, Carbine, a Kiwi adopted by Australia, truly demonstrated what would later become pure Anzac spirit. Two days after this two-win-day, Carbine backed up in the three mile (4800m) AJC Plate. He of course won.
Five races for four wins in six days at a total of over 16km and he was a three-year-old! However, what is more remarkable is the fact that the very next year, 1890, as a four-year-old, Carbine did exactly the same thing except he won the Autumn Stakes instead of running second. This year he carried 9.9 (61.2kg) in the Sydney Cup. Carbine was clearly the best horse before Federation and maybe our best ever stayer.
Before Makybe Diva came along, Wakeful was by the far the best staying mare Australia had seen. In 1902, Wakeful carried 9.7 (60.5kg) to win the Sydney Cup by two lengths. At this stage Wakeful was a six-year-old and had never won a Melbourne Cup. Perhaps the best indication of Wakeful’s greatness is the weight she was assigned in the 1903 Melbourne Cup 18 months after her heroic Sydney Cup win. In the 1903 Melbourne Cup, Wakeful carried 10.0 (63.5kg) to a narrow runner-up finish. The comparison to this is Makybe Diva in 2005, the champ’s third Cup. For having won 2 Melbourne Cups, A Cox Plate, A Sydney Cup, a BMW, an Australian Cup, the Turnbull plus numerous other races, the Diva was only handicapped with 58kg. Wakeful received 5.5kg more 103 years earlier for not having won anywhere near the quality of races that the Diva had. Was the Diva thrown in? Or was Wakeful sacrificed? Wakeful was unmatched until Makybe Diva and her effort in the 1902 Sydney Cup as well as the 1903 Melbourne Cup, will be remembered for ever.
Tune back into the Home of Racing tomorrow for part two of this countdown of great Sydney Cup winners.
By Zeb Armstrong