Copyright: Australian Racing Museum Collection

Phar Lap's 6.4kg heart is displayed in the National Museum in Canberra, his skeleton is exhibited at the Dominion Museum, Wellington, N.Z., and his taxidermied hide is on display at the Melbourne Museum.


TRAINER: Harry Richard Telford, Tom Woodcock

OWNERS: Harry Richard Telford, David J. Davis

RACE RECORD/STAKE MONEY: 51 starts: 37 wins, 3 seconds, 2 thirds/£A66,738

Major Wins 

  • Melbourne Cup
  • AJC and VRC Derbies
  • MVRC W.S. Cox Plate (twice)
  • VATC Futurity Stakes
  • AJC Craven Plate (three times)
  • Agua Caliente Handicap


There have been many superlatives used to describe Phar Lap, the giant New Zealand bred gelding which dominated Australian racing and beat the best in the world at Agua Caliente. Phar Lap was more than just another champion racehorse. Phar Lap played the role of hero to a people struggling with the effects of the Great Depression. He lifted their spirits and gave them respite from the difficult times of unemployment and food shortages. Australians love a battler, and here was a horse purchased for 160 guineas not only beating the best, but annihilating them, sometimes by up to 20 lengths.

While best remembered for his wins in the Melbourne Cup and Agua Caliente Handicap, some say his greatest win was in the 1931 Futurity Stakes; a seven furlong race run on a very heavy track. That day Phar Lap carried 10st 3lbs (65kg) and came from last to win against a top sprint field. His 1930 spring carnival form was astounding, as he followed success in the W.S. Cox Plate with wins on all four days of the Flemington Carnival, including an effortless win in the Melbourne Cup carrying 9st 12lbs (62.5kg).

Drama followed the horse, from the attempt on his life before the 1930 Melbourne Cup to his untimely and controversial death. This has been a matter for much conjecture; although recent scientific evidence suggests he died from an overdose of arsenic.

Phar Lap was an inaugural inductee into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2001, and gained legend status in 2007.

Image Source: Australian Racing Museum Collection