27 July 1930
Former Broken Hill local, Mick Robins, enters the FWSHF as a dual winning horse trainer of one of the world’s most prestigious races, The Melbourne Cup. Mick resided in the Silver City for 32 years before moving to South Australia to pursue his passion for horse racing. Mick managed to find a job working for the South Australian trainer, Grahame Heagney. Heagney eventually moved to America and left Mick in charge of training the stable. This stable was the home to the mighty stallion, Rain Lover, who Mick has broken in, and with Mick’s guidance, this duo would make history. Rain Lover won back-to-back Melbourne Cups in 1968 and 1969, Mick was the first trainer to do so in the 20th century.
Off the track, Mick is a widower who enjoys spending time with his daughter and four grandchildren. You will find Mick watching Sky Racing, reading The Winning Post and, on the odd occasion, enjoying a nice scotch.
FAR WEST SPORTING HALL OF FAME.
TRIBUTE TO 2023 INDUCTEE MICK ROBINS.
Almost three years ago I was delighted to record a lengthy interview with Australian racing legend Mick Robins.The former outstanding horse trainer was almost eighty nine years of age, but for fifty entertaining minutes regaled me with fascinating stories about his journey through life from a happy childhood in Broken Hill to the big
stage of Australian horse racing. Mick’s podcast triggered great response from racing fans, and got a similar reaction when we gave it a second run at Melbourne Cup time last year.
As a devoted racing man Mick was always proud of the fact that he was born in 1930, the year in which the iconic Phar Lap won the Melbourne Cup. He delighted in recalling his three years as an apprentice butcher on a wage of thirty shillings a week, and a sudden career move when he heard that other young men were getting much more money working in the famous Broken Hill mines. When Mick first went underground he was one of six thousand people employed in the
mining of silver, lead and zinc.
He was riding a pony as a toddler, and trackwork by mid teens. He tried his hand as an amateur jockey but increasing weight quickly saw him turn his attention to the training of racehorses. His talents were immediately obvious when he won seventeen races with a second hand horse called Sir Haydon. In the early 1960’s he moved to
Adelaide where he landed a job as stable foreman for the celebrated trainer Grahame Heagney. Eight years later he inherited a team of fourteen horses when Heagney was invited to undertake a training stint in the USA. One of the fourteen was a handsome bay colt called Rain Lover. Mick had no way of knowing the Latin Lover colt would one day take him to a place most Australian trainers can only dream about- not once but twice.
Mick Robins had already emerged as a very talented trainer by the time Rain Lover lined up in the 1968 Melbourne Cup with the late Jim Johnson on board. Coincidentally Jim had won the Cup on Gatum Gatum for Grahame Heagney five years earlier. Rain Lover had won the Adelaide Cup as a three year old in the previous season and proved he was on song for the Melbourne Cup with an emphatic win in the LKS Mackinnon Stakes on Derby Day. Mick expected him to be highly competitive, but was stunned when the stallion decimated his twenty five rivals. In finishing eight lengths ahead of runner up Fileur, he equalled the record winning margin established by Archer in his second Melbourne Cup win 106 years earlier. He also smashed the Flemington two mile record.
Rain Lover won seven more times before having another tilt at the great race one year later. He had a whopping 9kgs more than he carried in 1968, and was left in front 800m from home. The lightly weighted Alsop, in receipt of an astonishing 13kgs from Rain Lover failed by a head to run the gallant horse down. It was three Cups for
“Jockey Jim” and two on the trot for the former Broken Hill miner Mick Robins, who remains the oldest Melbourne Cup winning trainer still living.
Mick’s training achievements were not restricted to Melbourne Cups. He won a South Australian Derby with Dale Lace and an Oaks with Rain Amore while Master Kildare won a string of metropolitan races. He was a knowledgeable all round horseman whose attention to detail was unwavering. He relinquished his trainer’s licence around twenty eight years ago but has never wandered far from racing and racing people. For a number of years he helped out at the Mornington stables of Tony Noonan who frequently sought Mick’s opinion on equine matters. The veteran had to terminate that involvement when a simple fall in the stable aggravated an old back injury. Mick was thrilled to participate on several occasions as a VRC Ambassador, visiting many parts of Australia with the coveted Melbourne Cup trophy.
It was Tony Noonan who originally suggested that Mick would make a wonderful podcast guest, and I’d had several email requests along similar lines. Mick was happy to participate and we had a couple of lengthy phone conversations in preparation for the recording of the interview. I enjoyed every moment of both conversations. On behalf of his legion of friends in the Australian racing industry, may I express great delight in the news that Mick Robins is to be inducted into the Far West Sporting Hall Of Fame. It is indeed a fitting tribute to one of Broken Hill’s greatest sons, and to an all round good bloke.