PHAR LAP, TIMARU-BORN HORSERACING ICON Often proclaimed as the greatest racehorse the world has ever seen, Timaru born Phar Lap remains a hero in the eyes of New Zealanders and Australians almost 80 years after his death. Such is the strength of the Phar Lap legend that it has become the focus for events and tourism development in the Central South Island region. The Horse A gangly chestnut who won the hearts of two nations during the desperate years of the Great Depression, Phar Lap became an international hero - the “misfit from the backblocks” who became a world champion. Key Stats Born on 4 October 1926 at Seadown, Timaru, Phar Lap was prepared for sale at a local Chestnut Gelding stud before making unpromising debut at the National Yearling Sales at Wellington’s born: 4th of Trentham Racecourse in 1928. From shaky beginnings where he failed to impress buyers at October 1926, his first public appearance, he went on to become one of the greatest gallopers the world died 5th of April has ever seen. 1932 Known as Big Red because of his rich red coat, Phar Lap recorded 37 wins out of 51 starts, Sire: Night Raid, including the 1930 Melbourne Cup and the world’s richest race of its time, the 1932 Agua Dam: Entreaty Caliente Handicap in Tijuana, Mexico. Other major wins were the Victoria and AJC Derbies Size: 17.1 hands and the WS Cox Plate (twice). Heart weight: Even today, Phar Lap, whose name is Sinhalese for lightning bolt, is the benchmark for 6.3 kg (average champions of past, present and future. horse’s heart weight is around The Controversy 4.5 kg) Race Starts 51, Fierce debate has raged between New Zealand and Australia for decades as to who has the Wins 37, greater claim on the Phar Lap legend. Parts of the horse’s dead body are even divided Placings 5, between three nations; his skeleton in Te Papa National Museum, Wellington, his massive Unplaced Starts 9 14lb (6.3kg) heart in a jar in the Australian National Museum Canberra, and his hide on a model of his body in the Victoria Museum, Melbourne. The rest of the horse lies buried in Australian Race Earnings: £56,425 California, the place of his death. Drama and controversy also surrounded Phar Lap’s career, including an attempted shooting, bribe attempts and of course the huge crowds that American Race accompanied the horse’s every public appearance. Earnings: $50,050 Only 15 days after convincingly winning the world’s richest race (the Agua Caliente Handicap, on 20 March 1932), Phar Lap was struck down in a San Francisco stable by a mystery illness and died an agonising death from a ruptured stomach. Arguments as to the cause of his death have raged back and forth since then. Such was the international controversy that research was conducted by the Hoover Institute in California in an attempt to prove the horse was not poisoned by American interests! Phar Lap Statue Unveiling & Events, Timaru November 2009 A life sized bronze memorial of the champion racehorse in full gallop, ridden by his regular jockey Jim Pike and demonstrating his impressive 27 feet gallop stride, will be unveiled at Timaru’s Phar Lap raceway on 25 November, 2009. (Marquettes of the statue are available for purchase from the Phar Lap Trust, contact details below.) Events planned to coincide with the unveiling include: book launch “Dr Graeme Putt” - Phar Lap The Untold Stories cocktail function and formal dinner champagne breakfast exhibition gallop mock court where Phar Lap experts present their theories on the cause of Phar Lap’s death (Australia on prosecution and America on defence) 10 programme race day (William Pike as guest jockey riding in Phar Lap colours) fashion in the field heritage street parade. Plans for future product development on the Phar Lap theme include: racing and heritage museum Phar Lap themed café memorabilia equine themed children’s playground equine centre Phar Lap themed tour itineraries.