In an appreciation of the stallion Darebin at the time of the horse’s death in 1904, Thomas Merry recounted the horse’s reception shortly after his importation from Australia to stand at JBA Haggin’s Rancho del Paso.
Bill Williamson of San Jose, as good a judge of conformation as ever crossed the plains and a fairly good judge of pedigrees, went with me to see Darebin, a few days after he landed.
I never saw disgust so plainly depicted on any man’s face as when he looked on Darebin’s coarse ankles and sickle hips. “That be damned for a Thoroughbred horse,” he growled.
“What’s the matter with him, coarseness? I retorted instantly. “You must remember that he is a Melbourne horse and nothing ever came from Melbourne or Humphrey Clinker or any of the Sorcerer family that had any quality. Smolensko was the handsomest of the bunch, and he had a head on him like an ash-hopper.”
“You be damned,” roared old Bill. “Comus was by Sorcerer, and was the grandsire of Melbourne; and Comus got imported Prunella, the dam of my old stud Belmont, the handsomest horse that ever saw California. I wouldn’t give Belmont to-day, if he was alive, for a ten-acre lot full of such coffin-headed brutes as that. And for you to say that he gets that homely cocoanut from Melbourne, that’s too bad. Bah!”
Merry then proved through the testimony of Bruce Lowe and others that Melbourne was a “great, strong horse but totally deficient in quality” and related information from Australian trainer Dan Greenway that Darebin “was the biggest ‘slug’ I ever saw, but when he got fairly in motion he could outrun anything but a train of cars. The boy flogged and cussed him all the way.”
From his racing career, Darebin was talented and rugged, passing along those traits to his offspring, which included the dam of the high-class racehorse Commando (by Domino), who became the principal conduit of Domino in pedigrees and thus insured that Darebin counted for quite a bit also.