MacCabe, Frederick Faber (1868–1954), racehorse trainer and journalist, was born in Glasnevin, Dublin. Educated at Terenure College, Downside School, and TCD, he qualified as a medical doctor in 1891. In his late teens and early twenties he produced notable results in competition as a cyclist and cross-country runner. While administering a medical practice in south Co. Dublin, he pursued interests in sport and stock market speculation. He was a remarkably ambitious figure in the Irish sporting world by his mid twenties. When it became evident in 1894 that the Dublin monthly Irish Sportsman and Farmer was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, he intervened with an offer of rescue finance in return for the post of managing-director with rights to a 10 per cent share of the annual profits. He soon persuaded the board to alter the title of the paper and supervised the launch of the first issue of the Irish Field & Gentleman's Gazette (24 Nov. 1894). Made editor in early 1895, he ran two regular columns, a commentary on racing issues as they arose and a guide to investment in the stock market. The turnover increased vastly and, as the shareholders were reluctant to fund expansion, MacCabe boldly borrowed the capital to buy up share ownership of the paper and to become proprietor. Offices were set up in D'Olier St., Dublin, and in Fleet St., London. After three profitable years he came unstuck in late 1898 when embroiled in an insider-dealing shares scandal, and was obliged to remove himself from the editorial and commercial management of the paper when a high court judgment was passed against his estate. He continued, however, to write on racing topics for the paper for many years.
Having developed a small racing stables in Kilgobbin, Sandyford, Co. Dublin, in the mid 1890s, he began to have some success as a trainer. At the Leopardstown races on 21 August 1898 he took on the Turf Club, when his horse, Sabine Queen, was well beaten in a supposed five-furlong race, by a horse which he detected appearing to do an extraordinary time for the distance. His athletics career had accustomed him to assessment of performance by time, an approach unusual in contemporary Irish racing. He was able to prove that the race had been conducted over less than four-and-a-half furlongs. The Leopardstown executive was heavily penalised and racing rules were amended. Later that year Sabine Queen decisively beat the offending horse in a challenge and won the Irish Oaks. In late 1899 he gave up his medical practice to take a commission as regimental medical officer with the South Irish Horse for the duration of the Boer war. Retiring as surgeon-captain in March 1902, he returned to Ireland to renew training at Park Lodge, Sandyford. Having achieved some distinction on limited resources, he was invited by his neighbour Richard ‘Boss’ Croker (qv) to take over the training and management of his extensive stables at Glencairn, in November 1907. His sensitive management of the English-born horse Orby, previously underachieving for Croker, turned around her form by the Baldoyle Derby of December 1907, when she won commandingly. It took a stormy argument with Croker, nevertheless, for MacCabe to get the headstrong magnate to permit her entry to the Epsom Derby, though she was already a passionate favourite in Ireland. To the astonishment of the English press, which thought little of Irish training skills, Orby won by two lengths at the marvellous odds (for the sentimental Irish racing public) of 100 to 9. This was the first ‘Irish’ win at the Derby and was memorably encapsulated for MacCabe by an old woman in Dublin who expressed her delight at having ‘lived to see a catholic horse win the Derby’ (Hyland & Williams, 120). The partnership between MacCabe and Croker did not survive the year however. MacCabe was unable to prevent Croker from over-racing Orby into irremediable injury by August 1907, though winning the Irish Derby in June that year.
Breaking up with Croker in late 1907 (having achieved two Derby winners and twenty-nine other winners in his brief tenure) MacCabe moved to Newmarket as a public trainer and achieved the remarkable success of training Signorinetta, for the Chevalier Ginistrelli of Italy, to win both the Epsom Derby and the English Oaks of 1908. His training career was never to attain these heights again. He served as medical officer in the South Irish Horse again during the first world war. Resident in Ireland by 1923, he joined the Free State army as medical colonel commandant. In May 1924 he opened a new racecourse at Mallow, Co. Cork, as manager and secretary of the local board. His book Human life and how it may be prolonged to 120 years was published in 1919; a revised edition, Human life, its enjoyment and prolongation, was published in 1924. From 1928 to 1943 he served as honorary secretary of the National Agricultural and Industrial Development Association (a forerunner of the IDA). He died 14 April 1954 at his home, Oreen, on Sandycove Road, Dublin. He never married.