Phar Lap, a New Zealand-bred horse, remains an enduring institution of the Australasian turf.
He also achieved world fame after winning the Agua Caliente Handicap near Tijuana in Mexico to take his race record to an amazing 37 wins, two seconds and three thirds in 51 starts. Bought for only 160 guineas (approx US $130) Phar Lap was unbeaten at 1¼ miles (seven wins); 1½ miles (eight wins); 1¾ miles (three wins) and 2¼ miles (one win). He also won four races from six starts at two miles, including the 1930 Melbourne Cup with 15 lb. (6.8 kg.) more than weight-for-age.
Phar Lap started favourite in three successive Melbourne Cups, the only horse in the long history of Australia’s most famous race accorded that distinction. Now, amazing photographs of each of his wins have been published for the first time in The Phar Lap Collection. This magnificent publication, printed on art-quality paper, comes with its own presentation case. Phar Lap became the most public horse of all time, not entirely because he was so sublime. Drama, controversy, wickedness and savage cruelty rode with the big, gentle chestnut from barrier to box.
Criminals in Melbourne tried to shoot him on the Saturday morning before his 1930 Melbourne Cup win and finally, tragically, he suffered an agonising death in mysterious circumstances in California, USA, on April 5, 1932, when he was only a five-year-old.
Although all manner of theories abound about it, the cause of Phar Lap’s death has never been clearly defined.