Story: Horse and greyhound racing

Phar Lap: raring to go (2nd of 2)

Phar Lap: raring to go

New Zealand-bred Phar Lap, seen here with jockey Jim Pike at Flemington racetrack, Melbourne, around 1930, has legendary status in thoroughbred history and remains a benchmark against which other racehorses are measured. Phar Lap rose to fame during the economic depression of the late 1920s and 1930s with his domination of Australian racing, against particularly strong competition. He was unplaced in his first four starts as a two-year-old, and made an equally slow start at three, but after that was unplaced only once. His lifetime record was 37 wins from 51 starts, including the 1930 Melbourne Cup, carrying the equivalent of 62.5 kilograms. His final appearance was in the Agua Caliente Handicap, Mexico. It was billed as the world's richest race (although the prize money was actually halved because of the depression), and Phar Lap won easily, to great acclaim. His mysterious death 16 days later in San Francisco was mourned internationally, and his story has been the subject of several books and films.

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Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: MNZ-1050-1/4-F

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How to cite this page:

Mary Mountier, 'Horse and greyhound racing - Thoroughbred breeding', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 4 December 2023)

Story by Mary Mountier, published 5 Sep 2013, updated 1 Nov 2015