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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Darby McCarthy

c. 1969 (printed 2019)
Ern McQuillan OAM

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 40.5 cm x 32.0 cm)
Image not available (NC)

Richard 'Darby' McCarthy OAM (1945–2020), former jockey who rode in three Melbourne Cups and won more than 1000 races, is a proud descendant of the Mithaka and Goongurri people of south-west and central Queensland. He won his first race at an amateur meeting in Thargomindah at age ten; he then went to Brisbane, lying about his age so as to start a jockey’s apprenticeship with the Queensland Turf Club. By the age of 21 he'd won the Stradbroke Handicaps of 1963, 1964 and 1966, Brisbane Cup and the Doomben 10,000. After moving to Sydney, in 1969 he created history by winning the AJC Derby and the Epsom Stakes on the same day. He then spent a year in Paris on a hefty retainer that funded a lavish but damaging lifestyle. In 1976, McCarthy was disqualified from racing for seven years having been accused of helping to fix a race at the Hamilton Cup meeting. Though it was later proven that he had suffered a miscarriage of justice, the scandal effectively ended his racing career. In his later years McCarthy reiterated the importance of 'the stories of the blackfellas in sport', and called for improved documentation of Australia’s Indigenous sporting history.

A racing fan and renowned press photographer, Ern McQuillan OAM took this image of McCarthy at the height of the jockey's career in the late 1960s.

Purchased 2019

Artist and subject

Ern McQuillan OAM (age 43 in 1969)

Darby McCarthy OAM (age 24 in 1969)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Hop, skip, shoot

Magazine article by Simon Elliott, 2004

Former NPG Deputy Director, Simon Elliott talks with Ern McQuillan about his life and career as a sports photographer.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency