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Phar Lap

Phar Lap


When a hero was most needed during the Great Depression, there was Phar Lap. He was a New Zealand-bred horse, a world-wide known champion racehorse trained in Australia by Harry Telford. Foaled on October 4, 1926, Phar Lap was a brother to Nea Lap who won 5 races, and six other horses.

Racing Career

Phar Lap finished last on the first time he joined a race. It was April 27, 1929 when he first won a race in the Maiden Juvenile Handicap at Rosehill. Jack Baker, a 17 year old apprentice from Armidale, rode him in his first ever race. On September 14, 1929, he landed the second place in the Chelmsford Stakes at Randwick. Due to the exceptional performance Phar Lap showcased in the two races, the racing community started to look up to him.

Winnings and Achievements

During his four-year career, Phar Lap won 37 out of the 51 races he participated. In 1930 to 1931, Phar Lap won 14 races. Phar Lap won 32 out of 35 races before his final race in Mexico. He was on the second place on the three races that he did not win.


On April 5, 1932, Tommy Woodcock, who was Phar Lap’s strapper for the North America visit, found the horse in a compromising situation. Phar Lap was suffering from extreme pain and high temperature, and just within hours, the racehorse was pronounced dead. Findings revealed that the intestines and stomach of Phar Lap were inflamed, and everyone speculated that the racehorse was poisoned. It was only in 2000 when studies confirmed that duodenitis-proximal jejunitis, an acute bacterial gastroenteritis, was the cause of Phar Lap’s death.

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