Jockey Darby McCarthy at Victoria Park Racecourse, 29 Nov. 1978. (Pic by unidentified staff photographer)
Jockey Darby McCarthy at Victoria Park Racecourse, 29 Nov. 1978. (Pic by unidentified staff photographer)

Uncle Darby remembered as trailblazer of Australian sport

RICHARD "Darby" McCarthy will be remembered as a trailblazer for Aboriginal sportspeople and a beloved member of the Toowoomba community, according to his family.

Tributes have flown for the former jockey and indigenous elder, who passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 76.

A proud descendant of the Mithika who was born in Cunnamulla as one of 13 children, Uncle Darby grew up to become one of Australia's greatest jockeys.

At his peak, he won the Stradbroke Handicap three times between 1963 and 1966, and would later ride in France against the world's best.

Later in life, he was heavily involved in community sport and organisations, and was a foundation member of the University of Southern Queensland's Elders and Valued Persons Advisory Board in 2013.

Nephew Michael McCarthy, who thought of Uncle Darby as more of a brother, said his achievements in sport and life would not be forgotten.

"The history books will tell what he's done," he said on behalf of the family.

"He's been a brilliant ambassador for the Aboriginal people right throughout Australia.

"The likes of him, the Lionel Roses and Artie Beetsons, they broke the colour barrier way back in the 1960s.

"He was riding overseas before he was even a citizen of his own country.

"He was one of the happiest, most kind-hearted people I knew. Very generous with his time (and) his energy."

(From left) Darby McCarthy interviewed by Phil Coorey at the Darby McCarthy Race Day at Cliford Park. Saturday, 14th Mar, 2020.
(From left) Darby McCarthy interviewed by Phil Coorey at the Darby McCarthy Race Day at Cliford Park. Saturday, 14th Mar, 2020.

Mayor Paul Antonio paid tribute to Uncle Darby's legacy in Toowoomba and across the country.

"He was a trail blazer in the racing industry and was inducted into the Queensland Racing Hall of Fame in 2004," he said.

"While he wasn't born in the Toowoomba region, he resided here in his later life and made a major imprint while he lived here.

"Darby was an exceptional athlete and an even better human-being - it's truly sad we have lost such a wonderful person."

Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said Uncle Darby was a real "boy from the bush".

"We will never truly understand the many barriers he overcame to become one of the finest athletes ever produced in Queensland, if not the nation," he said.

Uncle Darby's family will notify the community of his funeral details in the coming days.