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Mick’s legend grows

Wednesday, 12th March, 2014

Mick Robins with the Melbourne Cup during a promotional visit to the city in 2010. Mick Robins with the Melbourne Cup during a promotional visit to the city in 2010.

By Darrin Manuel

The success of racing icon and former local Mick Robins was revisited this week with the induction of his dual Melbourne Cup-winning horse Rain Lover into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame.

Robins trained the horse in two history-making Cup runs in 1968 and 1969 after moving to Adelaide in 1962 to work for trainer Grahame Heagney.

Heagney moved to America in 1967 to follow one of his charges, Tobin Bronze, who was sold to William Breliant and Irving Litz from Los Angeles for $450,000.

This left Robins to take over a stable full of horses, and amongst them was a raw horse named Rain Lover owned by Clifford Reid.

It would be fair to say that Rain Lover was a born winner, with an amazing pedigree rarely seen in race horses of any era.

He was sired by Latin Lover (1962 Manchester Cup winner) and his lineage featured generations of international stars such as Ribot (Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner, 1955-56), Hortensia (Nassau Stakes, 1952), Tenerani (Goodwood Cup, 1948) and Precipitation (Ascot Gold Cup, 1937) to name just a few.

Mr Robins said he could tell the horse was a strong-willed winner from the second he took over its conditioning full time in early 1968.

“I actually broke him in. It wasn’t easy but he was a very good horse from the start; he just had that will to win.

“I might be a bit biased, but in my eyes he was one of the best two-milers ever to race... and he was sometimes running in three races in a week.

“You look at the big write ups on Fiorente. If I trained horses today like I trained Rain Lover they wouldn’t even make it through the barrier.”

Rain Lover proved his abilities in a career that featured 17 wins and 18 places from 46 starts, the most notable of which were the back-to-back Melbourne Cups.

He was also first past the post in a litany of other major races, and was named Australian Horse of the Year in 1969. 

“He was just a great horse... When I left Broken Hill if people had have told me I’d train a Melbourne Cup winner, I’d have said ‘you’ve got rocks in your head,’” said Mr Robins.

“Then to get two - I just can’t get over it. It’s still just unbelievable.”

Rain Lover was inducted into the hall of fame in a ceremony at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra on Monday, which Mr Robins attended.

At the age of 83, he said he still has a keen interest in the racing game, and will return to his hometown this weekend for St Pat’s.

“They named the grandstand after me, so I better come home and see if they’ve painted it,” he laughed.

“No, I can’t wait. It should be very good.”

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